The Pensive Federation’s Square explores the modern day interpretation of friendship. It questions the validity of social media, the connection of human beings to each other and the masks that some people choose to wear in an ever changing society. It asks an audience what it is that connects us to other people and what doesn’t.
The story begins at the funeral of a couple who have been in an accident. A group of four people who all knew the deceased, meet at this funeral after years of being estranged from each other. Venus (Jayne Edwards), a positive, bubbly fun lover, suggests that the four of them become friends and make an effort to get to know each other. The couple who have passed away were known for bringing people together and the four of them attempt to mirror this.
What writer Will Howells captures wonderfully in this charming piece, is the awkwardness of people in the modern world. He picks up on the persona people intend to portray through their actions, their social media profiles and even their names. The idea that we live in a “post-truth” world is intriguing and thought-provoking. The writing is sharp, snappy and significant. The main triumph of this production is the intelligence of the topical jokes. The script touches on issues such as politics, depression and broken hearts gently, without letting it take over the light-hearted nature of the play. Howell’s style of writing allows the audience to have a chuckle at themselves, thinking “I’ve said something that silly before”.
The actors were successful in portraying the frighteningly real characters throughout. The awkward exchanges between the potential couples were suitably cringe worthy but had an underlying truth to them. There were moments of real poignancy, particularly in Jared Roger’s performance towards the end of the play. Hannah McClean was engaging as the image obsessed Sophia whilst Anthony Cozens portrayed enigmatical Olly very effectively. The highlight was undoubtedly Jayne Edwards’ hilarious portrayal of Venus. She showed such effortless exuberance and had the audience laughing with almost every line.
The set was simplistic, comprising of one detachable square that would help create different environments throughout. The scene changes were relatively slick but arduous and perhaps interrupted the flow of the story itself at times. Costumes corresponded well with the theme of each scene and created an ambient atmosphere.
Overall, Square is a funny, fast paced and thought-provoking piece. It speaks to a modern day audience and questions how people display themselves to appear cool or fashionable. The Pensive Federation aim to create theatre that is accessible, and Square certainly is.
Square is playing at The Tristan Bates Theatre till the 13th August 2016 for information visit the Tristan Bates theatre website.