Pros: A thought-provoking, visually fascinating piece that is sure to make you question your own ideas.
Cons: At times the text is a little too ambiguous, and the show starts off so fast it’s hard to keep up.
Upon entering the upstairs theatre of the Drayton Arms Pub and seeing the equipment and the projector screens on stage, I immediately felt intimidated at the idea of the camera being on me. Was I being watched? With voyeurism being a central theme to this psychological drama, you are forced to feel the uncomfortableness of having your every move watched straight away.
The play follows Vince (Johan Munir) and Jon (Fergus Leathem), two long term high school friends who, since leaving school, have gone on to lead very different lives. Vince is an erratic drug-dealer and Jon, rather ironically, is a budding film maker. Despite their differences in character, the past has brought them together again for a night of beer swigging and pot puffing. As the night progresses, their talk turns to Amy (Charlotte Reid), the girl who stole Vince’s heart and Jon’s virginity. And as the conversation unravels, Jon is forced to reveal something that happened many years ago that he has never spoken aloud. So what exactly did happen on the final night of senior high? They each have their own interpretation, allowing the audience to consider the major themes of the play from three completely different angles.
Tape touches on many different themes, including voyeurism and the high profile sex scandals that have recently hit the news. The brilliance of this piece is that it makes you question your own opinions and ideas on the matter, and it does a marvellous job of keeping you guessing. Although there is plenty of opportunity for you to use your imagination, there are points that are too ambiguous and need a little more clarity.
With a small cast of just three, we see some good performances from each of the actors, but the opening seemed a little disconnected. The play is described as ‘fast paced’, which it certainly is. However, the speed at which the actors deliver their lines at the start is too high, and it felt as though they weren’t listening to each other. The play soon picks up, and we see a great performance from Munir as he switches from the in-control blackmailer to the apologetic wimp.
The set, designed by Anna Reid, is a simple yet effective seedy motel room, complete with bathroom. When combined with the actors’ movement, the set works really well in showing the passing of time and changes of location. The physical theatre used in between scenes is spot on and gives the audience a moment or two to swallow what’s happened. The use of both live and recorded projection, courtesy of Steelia Hoedemaker, is very clever and adds a welcomed extra to the already visually fascinating piece.
Overall Tape is quite a powerful production. Although the acting could do with a few tweaks, the writing is very intelligent and certainly sent me away pondering. The combination of physical theatre and film makes the piece interesting to watch and provides the audience with a fascinating spectrum of storytelling devices.
Author: Stephen Belber
Director: Robyn Hoedemaker
Production Designer: Anna Reid
Projection Designer: Steelia Hoedemaker
Producer: Arsalan Sattari
Box Office: 020 7835 2301
Booking Link: http://www.thedraytonarmstheatre.co.uk/theatre/visit-us/event-list/eventdetail/5698/tape
Booking Until: 11 June 2016