A bright, secluded, idyllic house in the French countryside provides the perfect backdrop of serenity for the young Lesere couple Jane and John. Having placed their past behind them to focus on the present and future of their relationship, the glowing cracks and memories can only be seen when each of them is alone, outside the purity and faithfulness of their love.

Enter George. A seemingly wounded and confused soul desperately seeking help, befriending Jane through his charm and helplessness. But something is unsettling about his character. His appearance and story allows him access to so much of Jane’s life and, when he returns later in the day meddling with John’s security, we know it cannot be a coincidence it is their door he comes knocking on.

Mind games and clues uncover the darkness of the past, unearthing every hidden detail of our two superficially innocent lovers. George’s dictation helps to tear their façade apart bit by bit, and with each explosion we feel John and Jane being beaten down by their memories, tearing them apart from themselves and each other.

Writer Ashley G Holloway delves deep behind the often meaningless illusion we create for ourselves and forces us to consider our true human nature. We are hurled into uneasiness and captured in a house of lies and secrets where the trauma of the war and early life is only starting to be revealed, causing a whirlwind of destruction.

Richard Atwill’s portrayal of the schizophrenic mentalist is absorbing to watch, controlling the stage and thrilling us in each startling twist of the plot. Accompanied by Cassandra Thomas, as the cynical but calming Jane, and Leon Williams’s John, whose trauma of war is evident, I rarely see a trio create such an intense, electrifying thriller. It is director Donnacadh O’Briain and designer Ellan Parry’s interpretation that impresses the most though. It is so easy to get tied up in the technology of theatre today, with all the fantastic things it can do, but the cleverly simple technological additions made this experience haunting, leaving me on edge, enthralled and disturbed.

I’ll be the first to admit that this show originally didn’t appeal to me. I felt like the centenary year of the First World War has been the basis for so much recently, and rightly so, but I wasn’t prepared for another traumatic, predictable story. Oh how I was wrong. The reality and thrill behind this show lured me in, its unpredictable, unclear ending leaving me with so many questions that Holloway intentionally asks. As always, the madman is the character to bewilder and engross me: why does he want to know all these things? Is there a hidden connection? My questions are never answered and, despite my interest, I don’t think they needed to be. Perhaps George is merely the external force there to fragment the lovers’ bliss, or maybe he doesn’t even exist, but this psychopathic character is Holloway’s genius creation that hurled me into the depths of human emotion and made me truly feel for Jane and John.

The intimacy of this production is strikingly intense, seizing every ounce of human sympathy it can get and making us question the intricacies of our mind. Where does our humanity begin and end? When can our actions be justified? Can someone be flawed and still have worth? Two gunshots. What and who are we really seeing?

Lesere is playing at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 1 August 2015. For more information and tickets, see the Jermyn Street Theatre website. Photo by Piers Foley.