With careful and silky-smooth language Goodnight Mr. Spindrift introduces the audience to a world perhaps not too unlike our own, where relationships are examined within every inch of their life. There is something happening under the surface, another society greets the audience and fills the theatre with invasive questioning and intrusive politics.
Archie (Joshua Asare) and Isaac (Jacob Ward) are left waiting in their broken apartment, government allocated, occasionally accompanied by an overshadowing voice haunting and creating fears, and sometimes making phone calls. They are soon to be joined by the dreaded examiners, quaintly nicknamed “blood letters”. The enchanting and rich voice of Mr. Spindrift (Angus Bower Brown) filters through the speakers, narrating and casting doubt onto the lives of the soon to be confirmed couple. He is captivating.
Uncertainty consumes the play, why are they being questioned? What has happened to the Government? And most importantly, who is Mr. Spindrift? Quiet mentions of murder, lost and mutilated children are unexplored, left to dance upon our imaginations, and while this may be a sure way to create allure, it does not do enough to entice my mind completely. I become distracted by the breaking stage; while Natasha Dawson’s set is inspired, sinks and cookers are created from raw wire and are crafted to hold by sheer will alone, they do not stand the test of time. Or more accurately the 70-minute run of the play. A light cover also falls off, causing a minute, but disrupting, diversion.
The play relies largely on lights and audio. The title character is ever heard and never seen, his existence, much like Bower Brown, remains separate from reality and perception. And while Mr. Spindrift’s tempting voice carries the dream-like essence of this imagined society, it is not captured by the rest of the cast. It takes time for them to fall into a comfortable certainty within their characters, find their timing and form persuasive relationships. While Ward comes into his own, the troubled and intrusively anxiously inferior paramour, Asare doesn’t quite match his stride. Paired with mistimed lighting and clumsy restaging makes for an occasionally unconvincing performance.
Writer Nancy Netherwood’s every word is precisely chosen and forms a haunting poetry. While it is unable to hold steady in any particular genre, there is no real scare factor to deem it horror, the comedy is far too subtle, and it is not irresistibly mysterious enough to be a mystery, it flits between each. Unsure yet moving, the imaginings of Mr. Spindrift may not strike hearts but should not be forgotten.
Goodnight Mr. Spindrift is playing until 27 April. For more information and tickets, visit the Old Red Lion Theatre website.