Home » Reviews » Off West End » Brainville at Night, Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

Brainville at Night, Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

Alexander Moschos 
Directed by Matthew Parker 
★★★

Pros: A polished and well-crafted show. Excellent sound, lights and projection with good performances.

Cons: The middle of the show drags and it started to feel a little bit repetitive. A shorter, punchier version would have more impact.

Our Verdict: A good show which is nearly an excellent show. The company is doing great work and the Brockley Jack is a lovely venue.

Courtesy of Brockley Jack

The Brockley Jack is a charming venue, attached to a busy and friendly pub serving some really fantastic food. It’s won awards for this in the past, having picked up an Offie for Best Foodie Experience (South East London) in 2011. So, our first recommendation would be to leave plenty of time to grab something nice to eat before you see the show!

Brainville at Night is close to being an excellent show. It’s very well-crafted and the production values are excellent. In addition to this, the script is thought-provoking and will strike a chord with plenty of people out there. However, it is a few scenes too long and a shorter, tighter version of the same script would have more emotional impact, transforming it from being thought-provoking into something really rather powerful.

Ingrid suffers from FTD or fronto-temporal dementia. This means she requires constant care from her husband Sven, their daughter, and their home care-workers. We move from Sweden, where we see this degenerative disease tear the family apart to Ingrid’s mind, where we relive the earlier parts of her life. Ingrid’s mind is created by some fantastic sound and lighting effects. There is some excellent use of projection in both settings which not only enhances the location but also gives us an insight into what Ingrid is really thinking.

The crux of Brainville at Night is the thought-provoking question of whether dementia prevents the patient from being in love. Ingrid has been married to Sven for twenty years, and although the dementia appears to be changing her as a person, the regular trips that we take to her inner mind cause us to think differently. Maybe she hasn’t changed at all, maybe she’s just lost the ability to express those thoughts to the people that she loves.

The production benefits from a strong set of performances across the board. Illona Linthwaite in particular is superb as Ingrid – her vacant expressions and strange turns of behaviour were brilliant and I actually found them very difficult to watch. Robert Hickson has one of the most challenging roles as Sven and he rises to the occasion admirably. His portrayal as an angry, frustrated and yet heart-broken husband is really very moving and you can’t help but feel for him. The rest of the cast deliver fine performances as well and there are no weak links across the board.

This show has the potential to be really powerful and, with the emotional storyline, it easily could have brought a tear to my eye. However, at ninety minutes long with no interval, there is a point at which I started to feel that we moved between Sweden and Ingrid’s mind one too many times. I started to drift a little bit somewhere around the one hour mark and only really re-engaged for the (fantastic) final ten minutes. That being said, the majority of this show is well-penned and all in all it is pretty engrossing stuff. With a few tweaks this could be great material.

Overall, I’d recommend this show for two reasons. Firstly, First Draft Theatre deserve your support as they are doing noble and important work which deserves recognition. Secondly, this is a unique and interesting show, one quite unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Brainville at Night runs at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre until 23rd February 2013.
Box Office: 0844 8700 887 or book online at http://www.brockleyjack.co.uk/brockley_jack_studio_whats_on.html

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