White Bear Theatre is the perfect venue for this intimate look at the issues and importance placed upon financial status in Upstanding Productions’ Faces In The Crowd. Written by Leo Butler, the feeling is that of a fly on the wall experience, giving us insight into the flawed relationship between Dave (Adam Bone) and Joanne (Bonnie Adair) as they meet once again after not seeing or hearing from one another for a decade.
Under Law Ballard’s direction, Adair is phenomenal as the deadpan Joanne, effectively carrying the pace of this production, with her comic timing and cutting remarks, ultimately delivering a visceral, moving performance. Bone’s mild-mannered Dave is much more than meets the eye, as his patience with Joanne begins to wear thin, and the real crux of who he is as a person rises to the surface.
Michael Leopold’s stage design plunges us into the heart of Dave’s studio apartment, the attention to detail enabling us to become truly lost in this two-hander play, as the décor is reminiscent of what seemingly every new-build in London looks like (imagine white walls and grey kitchen worktops). The topic of gentrification fits perfectly in this Kennington theatre venue, as the characters muse about the coexistence of the poor and the rich in the same neighbourhood.
Butler’s writing is rife with subtext, bestowing Bone and Adair with so much to play with and gives the audience just enough detail to keep us engaged throughout, as you think you have figured out the history of the relationship between these characters and the reason for their meeting after all this time, but then something else is said and we are forced to keep discovering, a wonderful form of writing. He discusses the burdens left on the next generation from previous government establishments, the rental property market in London, and the impact the possession of money has on the ego. Butler explores all of these topics and how they can manifest into people’s actions and decisions, providing a story that every single person can relate to in this society that says you should want to achieve bigger and better things.
Faces In The Crowd is a tragic and poignant portrayal of the pressures we endure as a society in the UK, the frightening prospect of regret and the false hope that we can escape the choices we make. A wonderfully naturalistic production you would be unfortunate to miss.
Faces In The Crowd is playing White Bear Theatre until 31 March 2018
Photo: White Bear Theatre