Having adored the Young Vic’s production of Three Sisters I was excited to see Fireface and couldn’t help but expect good things. Sam Pritchard’s beautifully crafted and gripping piece did not disappoint.
With no interval it would be easy for this very text-based play to be slow and cumbersome but Sam Pritchard’s production is anything but so. This is a clean and polished production that utilises a simple, flowing choreography to take us from scene to scene. Pritchard’s ideas are inventive (without being pretentious) and the audience is easily drawn into the world of Fireface, even with the unnaturalistic stage conventions that are used throughout. The scenes are played in short, sharp bursts and Pritchard’s direction keeps you constantly intrigued. This is an intelligent and skilled director that can only grow in ability as his career develops (Pritchard is most definitely one to keep an eye on).
Anna Watson and Peter Rice’s respective lighting and sound work takes centre stage in creating the atmosphere needed for this piece. Lamps and flashing lights are used to signify fire and some rather ingenious lighting techniques are used to keep the actors atmospherically visible.
Altogether the cast is strong. However, Aimeé-Ffion Edward’s otherworldly Olga and Rupert Simonian’s intense Kurt stole the show for me. Edward’s Olga was utterly engaging and intriguing and seemed to embody the very idea of an adolescent women looking to understand herself. Rupert Simonian’s performance was believable and truly captivating. Simonian’s presence alone makes you want to watch him but his talent is really quite remarkable, something that was also apparent recently in Three Kingdoms. David Annen and Helen Schlesinger, as Father and Mother, also give incredibly strong, polished and well-crafted performances. I found it difficult to feel drawn to William Postlethwaite’s portrayal of Paul. I felt that more nuances could have been discovered in the character and Postlethwaite could have found a more obvious throughline, as the character seemed to change depending on what was required scene by scene. On the whole these are very grounded performances and this resonates well with a piece that requires understanding and simplicity.
The Young Vic has showcased some powerful work recently and Fireface only adds to this. Buy a ticket and find yourself on the edge of your seat.
Fireface is playing at the Young Vic Theatre until 20th October. For more information and tickets, see the Young Vic Theatre website.