Need/Want/Crave is a double bill directed by James Huntrods and consisting of two short plays: How the Heart Works, by Shapour Benard, and Kingdom Come by Nia DaCosta. The production is a collaboration between Theatre Renegade, InBetween Theatre and The Factory. InBetween Theatre fuse visual and physical devising techniques, using original text or scores in non-theatrical settings. Theatre Renegade create original and engaging work that aims to provoke an emotional and sensory theatrical experience.
In How the Heart Works, withdrawn Adam (Ryan Forde Iosco) seeks escape from a party into an apparently empty toom. His solitude is shattered, though, by the emergence from under the bedclothes of drunken Rachael (Tracey Anne Liles), a young woman grieving the loss of her husband. They begin a long dialogue, covering love, loneliness and lies.
How the Heart Works features two fine performances, and their constant movement within the tiny stage space kept the play driving forwards. There were plenty of funny lines and touching moments and initially, I greatly enjoyed the piece. It was when the lies entered the foreground that I began to cool towards the play.
Both Rachael and Adam, in their emotional outpourings, kept stopping to admit that they were lying. As an audience member, I felt this came between myself and the characters, leaving me unable to emotionally invest in them as I never knew whether to trust anything they said. Was Rachael’s husband really dead? Had she even been married? The play had many good qualities – the actors have a great warmth together and Liles has a very appealing presence onstage – but this overwhelming dishonesty put me off.
Kingdom Come depicts the final guilt-ridden conversation between a troubled brother and sister, again played by Iosco and Liles respectively. Meryl and Jim reminisce, avoid the truth, and attempt to cling to some remnants of happiness while they wait for Jim to be taken away. The Southern American voice really came across in the dialogue, which was a pleasure to listen to. The costumes, music and old radio recordings used were wonderfully evocative, and I enjoyed the feel of this play. But again, truth was always open to question. The siblings’ memories diverged and differed and truth was not properly confronted, which kept the characters at arm’s length from me.
I enjoyed watching the actors; this is a pair that play well against each other. I also loved the topics of both plays and the writing itself was quite strong, but something in these left me wanting. Both featured moments of great sorrow and tenderness, but only moments. I constantly felt like the truth was being held away from me, like a lollipop held by an older brother just out of my reach: I can see its shape and colours and it still appeals to me, but I just can’t taste it.
Need/Want/Cave played at Leicester Square Theatre.