Review: I Think We Are Alone, Theatre Royal Plymouth

I Think We Are Alone slowly weaves together the lives of six individuals and their own personal heartaches and suffering. It serves as a gentle reminder of the torments many go through that are not openly accessible to others during day to day life and demonstrates the power of looking beyond oneself to those around us. Yet despite the seriousness of the subject matter and moral lessons trying to be taught, the show falls slightly short, both through performance and writing.

Meticulously written, I Think We Are Alone, delicately feeds information to the audience in such a means so as to neither bore nor overwhelm. Instead, it holds our hand from start to finish, making sure we never feel lost. This safety net for the audience is my first issue with the play. Unlike the characters in the show, all of whom are living through extreme moments in their lives, and as such, the audience cannot truly connect to those on stage from the relative comfort we experience.

Unfortunately, it is this desire to not disquiet the audience that plagues the show, woven throughout akin to the lives of the characters. There are several instances in which the show attempts to truly emotionally rock the audience but never fully commits to the emotional depth it tries to achieve, rather it pulls short and chooses to play for a cheap laugh. It succeeds with these easy laughs within the moment, though overall I Think We Are Alone suffers because of this, for it robs the audience of a meaningful resolution towards the end of the show. Devoid of a true emotional depth the culmination and ultimate resolutions within the show are merely hollow in comparison to what the show could achieve.

Performances too push quickly through the deeper emotional moments within the show as if afraid to hurt the audience. As opposed to damaging and then mending, the performances skirt around such points with actors focusing on getting to the end of a monologue rather than drawing the audience through it. This could potentially be down to the fresh nature of the show, the actors feel afraid to indulge and truly explore within the text, instead choosing to rush to the resolutions at the end.

Both Simone Saunders (Bex) and Charlotte Bate (Ange) brought a vulnerability and delicateness to their performances that feel truly complete by the end of the show. Bate, in particular, succeeds in pulling the audience into her character, hiding her past in such a way that when her secret is revealed the audience can perceive her whole performance in a new light. Saunders alone brings a truth and naturalism that is a joy to behold and somehow blends seamlessly with the abstract nature of the staging.

The staging revolves around four moveable Perspex lightboxes that the actors manoeuvre throughout the show, both creating real and imagined space in which to perform. They bring the unique Frantic Assembly feel to the show and are indeed effective, yet at times it doesn’t feel like a fully developed product and the actors themselves seem unsure with the positioning. That is not to say that there is no interesting implementation of the set pieces, but there are disappointingly few considering they are the only staging device used.

I Think We Are Alone has a lot of potential that unfortunately isn’t fully realised. The show is certainly impactful, but I fear ultimately not as much as it could be due to underplayed moments and a script that chooses to keep the audience safe, rather than leaving them to find their way from beginning to end.

I Think We Are Alone played the Theatre Royal Plymouth until 8 February. For more information, visit the Theatre Royal Plymouth website.