Review: No One Is Coming To Save You, The Bunker Theatre

No One Is Coming To Save You takes place in the dreams of two unnamed, depressive and insomniac young people. Everything seems to be on hold for them, including sleep, and separately at first they begin to glimpse things – memories, and maybe things beyond those. But is it too late for any of this?

While not thoroughly convinced by Nathan Ellis’ script, this is a slim and slick production directed by Charlotte Fraser, from the otherworldly lighting design by Jessica Hung Han Yun to the simple and strange set. Designed by Khadija Raza and Alice Simonato, the two characters’ smallness in the Bunker’s space is emphasised by their isolation on a strip of astroturf in the middle of the space. Glasses half-full with water surround the strip and a boxy old television plays blinking footage of roulette, a shopping channel, and an aeroplane in a pastel sky. It feels halfway to somewhere, not quite real. The TV’s picture glitches and wobbles as if hearing everything said.

And a lot is said. The actors, Agatha Elwes and Rudolphe Mdlongwa, exchange their duologue back and forth, a third-person commentary on their lives, petty resentments – their terrors. It’s like Richard Siken’s ‘Boot Theory’ in theatrical form. The considerable charm of both actors makes this distancing more disarming, and there are some excellently incisive lines, for instance skewering the kind of young liberal who “likes Pulp Fiction, hates Tarantino”. Or looking back on a short life and seeing only “a succession of disappointing sandwiches eaten in traffic jams.” No One appeals to these fears many young adults at this point in time supposedly share, a feeling that things are teetering on the edge, and that all there is to do is wait for them.

Some distracting sound choices feature: it seems as if someone has heard the ‘x song playing from another room’ remixes and decided on that as an overall, ‘ambient’ framework, but ‘You Want It Darker’ is perhaps too distinctive, threatening to overwhelm whatever it’s intended to score, and ‘This Is America’ is still unsettlingly unfitting for this play no matter which room it plays from.

Though its concerns are eminently relevant, something in the way the characters speak about themselves doesn’t quite manage to make me feel something, or convince me that any great breakthrough has been shared. The hopeful note of the ending feels slightly unearned, and perhaps would have benefited from some more time dedicated to the possibility of the characters changing. It feels a little like these two young characters, with more room to grow and develop in their understanding, but earnest and almost desperate. Like them, it may well get there.

No One Is Coming To Save You is playing at the Bunker Theatre until 7 July

Photo: The Noise

Frey Kwa Hawking

Frey Kwa Hawking

Frey Kwa Hawking is a small person, full of hate, who lives and writes in London. He likes to go to the theatre and the cinema. Sometimes they let him in. He is trans and Malaysian-Chinese. He always orders xiao long bao. Follow him on Instagram at @absentobject.