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Presented by Jermyn Street Theatre, Rocky Road is a livestreamed thriller exploring the complexities of revenge and redemption. Having tracked down the man who maimed her, Zoe surreptitiously forces her way into his world in an effort to understand his brutality towards her many years ago. As she struggles with her dark machinations, it becomes unclear who is really the cat and who is the mouse in this twisted game of retribution.
Shaun McKenna’s text is full of cold calculating suspense, intertwined with pangs of heartache and fear, delicately balanced without too much exposition. Directed by Steven Kunis, Danny and Zoe’s first meeting sets a clear baseline for the atmosphere that we feel throughout the play. There is a palpable history between them which is informing their actions and how they present to each other, which Kunis makes sure to keep always just out of reach from our understanding. At first, Zoe appears very needy and desperate to push her way into Danny’s life, but as the image begins to take shape her desperate struggle to maintain this pretence becomes clear.
Ceci Calf’s claustrophobic design is an amalgam of old and new, mixing aging interiors and Fred Astaire with gloss paint and Alexa. One space acts as the flats of both characters, cleverly lit by Ryan Joseph Stafford to reflect the difference in scene, as well as reflecting their individual character. The sound, incorporated by Dan Samson, blends seamlessly with the design and adds to the suspense of the play, often cutting abruptly or going against the rhythm of the scene.
The overall effect of these design elements is that of an old PI’s office in a Film Noir, complimenting the covert narrative of the story and adding an element of nostalgia to the tone. Clever manipulation with the camera only improves the effect, caging the actors in moments of emotional chaos, with no escape from the lens.
Tyger Drew-Honey and Kirsten Foster, as Danny and Zoe respectively, give gripping performances of two miserable hearts in turmoil. Their full commitment to their characters hidden motives maintains our confusion, leaving us guessing where the power lies within the scene.
Drew-Honey uses a soft approach to create a detailed and believable man, gently spoken with moments of brute force that catch us off guard. Meanwhile, Foster’s pointed performance is electric as a woman who is both committed and yet uncertain. Tormented by each other and their own demons, it begs the question of why people continue to spiral into dangerous situations, even when they have a chance to walk away.
An intriguingly complex play, Rocky Road feels like a perfect mix between the exploration of theatre (to which we are finally returning) and the subtleties of recorded media. Without a doubt this is one that will keep me thinking for weeks to come.
Rocky Road is streaming from 10th to 30th May. For more information and to book visit Stream Theatre’s website.