by Luke Owen.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 23 November 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 15min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 November.
Quietly scorching production with a few telling flare-ups.
“They that touch pitch will be defiled,” opines watchman Dogberry during Much Ado about Nothing. With understanding and patience Luke Owen’s new play demonstrates the process in a bleak area of modern life.
Set in Traverse formation, a bank of spectators either side of the central acting strip, which shows a room made intense by the concentration on work stations and the calm which is the default manner of its trained staff, Owen displays the impact of their work on people whose job is searching websites for child pornography.
It can lead to an outburst, or damage social life. Soon after starting the job, bright and confident Tom goes speed-dating, his early success and subsequent relationship blocked by his work.
Details of support for the people who spend a full-shift fixed to computer screens, detecting sinister content behind careful covering codes, range from counselling to cake (the latter, for some reason, on Mondays only), suggesting first-hand knowledge or detailed research.
Unscorched may be too neat for a definitive dramatic examination of the matter, but it’s informative and carries conviction that this is how child pornography eats into supposedly detached viewers.
Justin Audibert’s production, aided by Georgia Lowe’s design, with secret compartments helping create a tight, shut-away world, ensures performances maintain a sense of containment which only rare moments reveal is maintained under pressure.
It’s a smart, cool world, apart from the work itself – pressed suits, understanding management, mutual support, respectability avoiding words and manners which, if used openly, would blow the pretence pitch doesn’t defile.
Seeing through the newcomers is reliable, experienced Nidge. His evenings are spent carefully constructing model planes as if in defiance of the destruction of childhood he sees daily. His final outburst is a rare moment of Owen imposing a theme on his characters.
John Hodgkinson gives Nidge a finely-judged appearance of calm, his quiet patience and authority encouraged by living alone – until the work gets to him. Eleanor Wyld, as the one character outside this world subtly shifts from affectionate friendliness to colder politeness on learning of Tom’s occupation in this superbly-judged production.
Nidge: John Hodgkinson.
Simon: Richard Atwill.
Mark: George Turvey.
Tom: Ronan Raftery.
Emily: Eleanor Wyld.
Director: Justin Audibert.
Designer: Georgia Lowe.
Lighting: Joshua Carr.
Sound: Richard Hammarton.
Assistant director: Jonny Kelly.