THERE WILL BE MORE
by Edward Bond.
TheCockTavern Theatre 125 Kilburn High Road NW6 6JH To 13 November 2010.
Wed-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 4pm.
Runs 1hr b50min One interval.
TICKETS: 08444 77 1000.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 October.
Stark and demanding.
In Edward Bond’s new play murder and rape are prime ingredients of a marriage. Babies brought onstage are not saved from violence. It’s easy to see why the 76-year old playwright has never been easy viewing.
Violence is easy in the theatre, making an instant strong effect. But Bond’s violence is always purposeful, part of the relentless search for something truly human. This dark journey from a sort of story to a disgorging of consciousness examines the cause and impact of violence.
His Lear placed Shakespeare’s bloodiness in the age of scientific cruelty. Here, the military uniform in which Johnson dresses as he awaits his wife to accompany him to a social event aimed at helping his career, alongside his disregard of her, are signs of values that soon issue in horrific actions – the more so for the deliberate manner of their execution – silently foretold in her stare.
Seen only in a dressing-table mirror, Helen Bang’s eyes are determinedly unresponsive to her husband’s words. Dea, a modern-age Medea, is also a seeker after humanity, her long silence as Johnson speaks followed in later scenes by torrents of effortful words to her grown-up son.
He, Oliver, wants to protect the mother he’d thought dead, but ultimately he adopts his father’s military uniform, now grey battledress rather than colourful ceremonial; for now there’s a war on; individual violence ricochets through society. After a very short first act, there’s an 18-year gap to the main action, indicating that violent acts can happen quickly, but they arouse long-term emotions and dilemmas.
Adam Spreadbury-Maher’s production gives this bleakness a close-up claustrophobia. Apart from a single divan, a bloody resting-place, the later scenes have a defiantly blank-walled darkness (just one upstage door in Julia Berndt’s setting, through which characters come to the slaughter). All is very cerebral though; like a problem play minus, mostly, the play.
Bond’s skill is evident in the silences, the characters’ horror and grasping for understanding. But it takes place without the context provided in his best-known plays, making for viewing where it’s a close-run thing between moral investigation and narrative dearth.
Dea: Helen Bang.
Oliver: Timothy O’Hara.
Johnson: Stephen Billington.
Young Man: Glenn Hanning.
Louise: Hatty Jones.
Director: Adam Spreadbury-Maher.
Designer: Julia Berndt.
Lighting: Steve Lowe.
Fight director: Lawrence Carmichael.
Assistant director: Julie Osman.