The still young Duelling Productions return to Camden with their hard-hitting and affecting production of Jane Bodie’s A Single Act, proving that this company of performers has talent to keep an eye on over the coming years.
The play follows two couples and how their lives, relationships and minds are affected by an unspecified ‘event’ that has shaken the populous, bringing to the foreground the important issue of post traumatic stress disorder, which can be born out of such happenings. The episodic nature of the piece allows the audience an insight into the most intimate corners of the characters’ anxieties, and how devastation breaks these couples’ lives from the outside in. With one relationship starting at the climax of personal trauma and working backward, and the other going forwards from the event, the intelligent and dramatic inter-cutting of the two contrasting yet undeniably connected relationships is incredibly poetic. Bodie’s simple yet elegant writing lends itself to the difficult subject matter, which the play addresses with sensitivity.
The flow of the production as a whole snaps between the naturalism of the scenes and the stylised movement of the scene changes. Jamie Manton (director) and Jasmine Ricketts (movement director) have cleverly woven together these two elements to underline the stresses of the characters through intricately choreographed movement, often overlapping between the actors during the scene transitions. The images created stay with the audience and underline what is being shown, and the mental and emotional fragility of the characters.
The four-strong cast give great performances, with an understanding of the trust of relationships and the underlying frailty that is constantly threatening to bubble to the surface. One couple, Neal and Clea, are dealing with Neal’s ever more consuming anxieties as a result of the event occurring, and the effect of this on his own psyche, life and relationship. The subtle worries and hiccups of any modern relationship are presented with truth by the actors, with a deftly-played undertone of something greater being at stake. On the other side of the narrative, Scott and Michelle exist in a fractious and disturbing relationship together, with their story working backwards and unravelling to show what simple circumstances abuse can be born out of. The acting never lets up and is in turns intense, subtle and beautiful.
The simple set design, with muted costumes and the use of dust as a constant presence on the stage throughout – often highlighting the actors movements and, in turn, intentions – means that the acting and story is never distracted from. Visually satisfying and emotionally riveting, A Simple Act presents the audience with a truthful and sensitive examination of the effects of PDST, an often over-looked result of modern media hype and constant coverage of disasters.
A Single Act is playing at Theatro Technis until 20 June. For more information and tickets see the Theatro Technis website.