Home » Reviews » Off West End » In the Kingdom of the Blind, Network Theatre

In the Kingdom of the Blind, Network Theatre

Brian McMahon, Charlie Howitt and Kit Spink.
Directed by Andrea Brooks, Tracy Collier, Steve Hudson, Zois Pigadas, Jason Warren

★★

Pros: Strong performance by Kit Spink who delivers an absorbing monologue during the play.

Cons: The play jumps around from main plot to subplot, without any structure. It is not clear why the three characters have shunned modern life to sit shivering in a tent with a small ration of jaffa cakes.

Our Verdict: Lack of clear purpose lets the play down. Possibly the result of having five directors and three writers. The play would have had more impact if set somewhere completely isolated.

Courtesy of Network Theatre

This was my first visit to The Network Theatre and I must say it is an astonishing place – a real hidden gem. If you have never had the pleasure, the theatre is down a service road and through a security gate at the back of Waterloo Station. It is certainly worth hunting out though I urge you to bring a map.

As you take your seat for this play, the stage is already set. The three actors are already on stage, silent, but fully in character. The black painted stage is a shelter (perhaps even a cave) protecting the three from a torrential storm. The rain and wind can be heard battering the shelter as background noise. Are they on a camping trip or is this an end of the world apocalypse scenario? It is not immediately clear. They have all the modern camping gear, collapsible tent, waterproof ground mats, gas stove, which are littered across the stage. A dead rabbit hangs by its feet with a broken longbow on the floor .

The play starts slowly with numerous subplots which are not linked to the main story. After a while, it becomes clear that the three characters are in the wilds of England, on a journey to Wales. Why Wales? This is never made clear to the audience. They are all there by choice though, having shunned modern life by destroying their mobile phones and laptops. They are not old friends, so it is also not clear how they met to embark on this adventure.

It soon becomes apparent the three are not experienced at living rough or hunting. This leads to a terrible accident which stuns the group. The adventure has become serious with devastating consequences. There are several scene changes throughout the 80 minute play but the black stage hardly changes visually, just a few extra leaves or additional pieces of camping gear, placed haphazardly. The actors and their clothing also become more disheveled due to the bad weather over the year long journey, as they head to Wales.

The characters’ backgrounds are not really explored and I found Davis’ character quite annoying. I could not have spent one hour with him, let alone a year. The actor with the strongest performance was Kit Spink who presented an impressive monologue about San Francisco, which was my favourite moment. The play loses its way quickly but the concept is a good one and there is scope to expand or rework the idea. There is just no direction in this performance, which is a shame. The audience finds itself just as lost as the three characters in the wild.

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

In the Kingdom of the Blind at The Network Theatre runs until 9th March 2013.
Box Office: 0844 8700 887 or book online at
http://networktheatre.org/tickets

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Founded in 2011, Everything Theatre started life as a pokey blog run by two theatre enthusiasts and – thanks to the Entry Pass Scheme for 16-25 year olds – regular National Theatre goers. Today, we are run by part-time volunteers from a wide array of backgrounds. Among our various contributors are people who work in theatre, but also people who work in law, medicine, events, marketing and even psychiatry! We are all united by our love for the London theatre scene.