Pros: Energetic performances, heavyweight dialogue.
Cons: Actors could have been stretched further. Story was sometimes hard
The Bridge Company, an initiative run by the BRIT School giving 18-19 year olds another year at college to hone their professional skills, brings its head-exploding miniature epic Landmines to Ovalhouse.
Through a series of connected scenes the audience is treated to a sensitive dissection of the 21st century condition: schoolyard stabbings, social media, questionable journalism, sex, drugs and homelessness are just some of the themes explored. You might think that the young cast wouldn’t be up to the task of mediating on such serious subjects, but you would be wrong. Instead, the talented troupe delivers on approaching the darker themes in a poignant and refreshing manner, helped in no short measure by the excellent writing of industry professional, Phil Davies.
A play about fascism, newspaper savagery and Snapchat could go horribly wrong, coming across as stale, or worse; the writing could even, God forbid, be plagued by a droll one-sidedness. The opposite is thankfully the case; scenes are approached with an astute impartiality. In the club scene towards the end of the production, the DJ boots a man out of the club to the delight of a baying crowd, all for the simple fact that the man in question is a Tory voter: “We’re love, you’re hate,” he hollers, a simple line that pulls the plug on any black vs. white clichés; the show errs much more on a ‘shades of grey’ philosophy, subtly alluded to by the characters muted grey costumes in the unnamed (Daily Mail) newsroom scenes.
Some of the dialogue, again in the club scene, was so familiar that it seemed like you were having your own not-too-distant weekend conversations played back to you verbatim. There were times, though, that the effectiveness of the dialogue was lost, due in part, perhaps, to the actors’ boundless enthusiasm. It would have been better if some of the scenes could have been directed to take the tempo down a notch to balance out the more frantic elements of the story.
The club scene also provided some enticing, foot-tapping choreography, the cast jiving in slow-motion as the lead, Vida (played by Imogen Fuller), was thrust in and out of the crowd. It was all made very believable by the attentive lighting set-up and smoke machine to boot.
It seems like a minor thing to approve of, but the cast were smoking hot on their line delivery. It was clear that, even by the second night, the team had drilled their performances to perfection: truly faultless. There were standout turns from several of the cast members, in particular Denniel Dunbar nailed all five of the characters he portrayed during the performance. Saying that, the show might have been improved further if there was a little more differentiation between the characters the multi-rolling actors had to play; it certainly wouldn’t have been above them.
Writer: Phil Davies
Director: Emma Higham
Set and costume: Ryan Dawson Laight
Booking Information: The show runs until Saturday 24th June at the Ovalhouse
Booking link: http://www.ovalhouse.com/