Pros: Seeing two actors-cum-directors in very different roles shows off their versatility and acting skills.
Cons: I found one play to be thoughtful and clever, and one not as much!
Tucked away in a little-known corner of Camberwell, the Blue Elephant Theatre is a real hidden gem which attracts a diverse local crowd. A visit is always a treat, and their programme of new writing is both eclectic and varied. 1992 and Over There are two short plays that mark the launch of EG, a new London-based theatre company, and they’re definitely one to look out for.
Lisa McGee’s brilliant and haunting two-hander 1992 slowly reveals the dark and disturbing truth behind two men drinking one cup of tea after another in a small rented flat in the middle of nowhere. The writing subtly introduces the story layer by layer, as we find out about these men’s horrific deeds and the reasons behind their brutality. Edwin Ashcroft is outstanding as the cold, intense older brother, while George Quiney beautifully demonstrates his character’s moral dilemma, swaying from barbaric fury to remorse. There are moments of perfect comic relief during which the audience rocks with a laughter that even the actors are succumb to, though they do their best to cover up their grins. The stage is sparse, and the few props are well thought-out and effective.
I thought Jon Fosse’s Over There was, by contrast, rather disappointing. Fosse has had his productions staged at the Young Vic and The Royal Court, so I had high hopes for his most recent short play, in which two men (Ashcroft and Quiney, both again, in top form) are out on a hike to the top of a mountain and one of them inexplicably sees lights in the distance. Frustratingly, after a lot of build up, the story does not really go anywhere. Maybe one of the men is dying, and therefore seeing lights? I found the play lacking in substance and insight, though it does nicely encapsulate the idea that ambiguity can sometimes be mistaken for profundity. That said, it was wonderful to experience two very different plays within a short space of time that have never been staged before in London, and the acting in both two-handers was powerful and bold. I’m looking forward to seeing more by EG in the future.
Directors: Edwin Ashcroft and George Quiney
Writers: Lisa McGee and Jon Fosse
Booking Link: http://www.blueelephanttheatre.co.uk/1992-and-over-there-two-short-plays
Box Office: 020 7701 0100
Booking Until: Saturday 14 November 2015