Pros: Ingenious script about a touching and familiar family that is truly original.
Cons: Whilst intelligently written, it might not be perfectly realised in this performance.
Again has the promise of sounding like a very simple play on familiar themes. We were shown what was a typical nuclear family going through all too familiar situations. But what makes Again something new, something different and something very clever is the way it manages to show all these situations in a number of ways.
Scenes played out, were rewound and then shown again. After the rewind however, there were changes in the characters’ reactions and attitudes that made for a dramatically different result. This was all enclosed in a framework of explicit sections, such as ‘ARRIVAL’, which showed two grown-up children returning to their mother’s home only to find their estranged father there as well, and ‘SEX’, which I will leave to your imagination…
The four actors were effective in their efforts: the differences in feeling between the various sections that were ‘rewound’ were stark, and energy was high throughout. But it was Natasha Little’s performance as Louise – the mother of the family – that showed powerful nuance and really grabbed our attention. It was through Louise that we experienced the multi-faceted joy and pain a family gathering can ignite. The characters of Adam (Charles Reston) and Izzy (Rosie Day) were a great matching, with Adam being the highly intelligent but repressed academic, and Izzy nothing but the fun-loving free spirit. Round that off with the surly Tom (Chris Larkin), who always had a dad-joke to hand, and there is every opportunity for the audience to discover something of their own family on stage.
The cosy setting was minimalistic. A simple house silhouette frame and a table with chairs was enough to keep us truly focused on the family characters. Small touches maintained the ambience, such as a distant car alarm which played again at the same point through the scenes once rewound, and a single tree gave us the second scene of a garden. Some soup is served later on in the play, and I do love it when food is served and it’s actually hot. The rising steam gave the table a homelier look, but the smell ended up actually rather unappetising.
Again wasn’t the best performed play I’ve seen, neither was it desperately emotional, surprising or shocking. But the way the scenes played out, rather like when you replay a scene in your head wishing you’d said something different than you did, was truly clever and different from anything I’ve seen. Stephanie Jacob has written a family that shares traits with many that I’ve encountered, and succeeded in writing something memorable and touching.
Author: Stephanie Jacob
Director: Hannah Price
Producer: Mongrel Thumb
Booking Until: 3 March 2018
Box Office: 020 7206 1174
Booking Link: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/again/trafalgar-studios/