Pros: Excellent and thoughtful writing with deeply engaging characters.
Cons: A very particular and uncomfortable topic that some may not be willing to watch.
Jack Studio Theatre is an extension of the Brockley Jack Pub situated in the heart of South East London. Almost camouflaged amongst the rural high street in Brockley, its local and family friendly vibes were wonderfully welcoming and the reception from the team was a delight. The theatre, like many pub-theatres, was simple yet versatile in its setting and created an ambience for the audience. It also provided a massively contrasting environment to the story told in this production.
Julian Garner’s writing in The Awakening was for me unforgettable. This emotionally and morally unstable play shows us Johannes, a man of great regret who has committed an unforgivable wrongdoing. Surrounded by many different characters that both support and despise him, his guilt and comeuppance goes on serving him. The whole tale comes to a strangely abrupt end in act two, but we see enough through the writing and acting to be wholly engaged.
From the beginning, the set was authentic and minimalistic. It showed us the intricacies of settings from a church to a barn stable and a dull prison cell without giving too much away. The lighting design from Jennifer Rose and sound design from Max Graef were the perfect ensemble to accompany each of these settings. The lighting drew focus on the characters and their story whilst the sound drew the whole experience together and filled in the blanks in each scene.
The themes and story in this production were very particular. With the topic being one that many would be uncomfortable with, it is worth investigating whether it’s something you can bare watching for a full length production. Packed with religious beliefs and battling with the moral compass that most people never have to encounter, this writing imposes a strange feeling on its audience. Julian Garner’s script is clever and insightful, and the research and character building that has gone into this production are faultless. This was blatantly evident through the impressive performances of all four actors.
Alex Dowding’s performance of Johannes was brilliant and yet, unbelievably frustrating. This character that you do and will inevitably hate still manages to make you smile. Grace Cookey-Gam’s Agnes was warm and comforting. Your personal opinion of her character’s views will completely depend on your personal feelings on injustice. Joana Nastari’s cold performance as Unn coupled with Jarren Dalmeda’s faultless version of Iversen were the perfect characters in this wildly discomforting production.
Every aspect from the writing to the set changes have been thought through thoroughly. It’s truly a very particular story with a mind wracking ending.
Author: Julian Garner
Director: Madelaine Moore
Booking Until: 24 September 2016
Box Office: 0333 666 3366
Booking Link: http://www.brockleyjack.co.uk/portfolio/the-awakening