Contemporary theatre, often a word that on a press release chills me to the core. Not because I don’t enjoy or revere it, quite the opposite I feel it allows Theatre makers to be more expressive and open, it scares me because when it is done right it’s fantastic but when done wrong…I’d struggle to give it a good GCSE grade. Luckily RedDeer Theatre Company’s ‘Attic’ at The Kings Head is the previous of the two.
From the very off we feel we are in safe hands, the dialogue is aptly pinteresque, the actors strong, defined and from the first lines we know what this piece is about. ‘Attic’ throws us into the world of a classic millennial couple in love, fighting with the need to feel something or be something, constantly grappling the issue of expectation vs reality. Both Phoebe Stapleton & Connor Harris tackle this very well in their own right, with Leonie the struggling millennial burdened with mental instability, trying to grasp what is left of her life by short straws and pull it all together whilst Bay acts as the rock for her to moor on to, both acted superbly with raw emotion and perfect chemistry, I would however have liked to have seen more crossover between the characters emotions instead of them both being such stoic archetypes, however that is more a comment on the writing than acting. I will also say that although dripping with incredibly real emotion and pain, Stapleton was sometimes a little difficult to hear even on the front row.
One of the real stand out performances of the piece was the direction, if you haven’t been before, The Kings Head is an interesting space, interesting meaning, there isn’t a lot of it, yet Ed Theakston managed to use every centimetre of it and it payed in dividends. We never felt close or trapped yet at the same time whole heartedly believed they where in an attic apartment. The lighting and sound where both used very effectively but his real masterpiece moments where the sections of physical theatre. They felt both beautiful and relevant at the same time, we never once felt there where just thrown in, it perfectly portrayed the twos inability to talk frankly about their problems yet through physical movement it unlocked them.
The script itself was well written and daring, Meriel Hinsching did a good job in displaying both their human aspects as well as the abstract nature of the feelings they where going through. I do feel the timeline jumped around a lot and we were often left questioning where we where in place and time, however maybe this is a joint script and direction issue. The language itself, although very experienced and daring, was sometimes a little self consciously theatrical which maybe having seen many plays becomes more apparent to myself than a general audience goer. The only aspect of the piece which didn’t really add up was that of Bays family storyline, personally I would say we need more of it or none at all else it feels like a throw in to evoke an audience response which I am certain wasn’t how it was intended.
Overall ‘Attic’ is a very strong piece of theatre, with elements of contemporary, abstract and physician theatre, it manages to blend them all professionally and cohesively. It left me enjoying it but not really sure why which is the basis of theatre, to feel. The script could do with a little tightening and a few changes here and there to perfect, but for the first foray of these young East 15 graduates, they are definitely worth keeping an eye on.