Pros: Well written, well thought out script. It deals with serious and relevant issues faced in today’s society.
Cons: The pace is slow and monotonous in some areas. Extra detail could have been paid to direction in the first half of the play, as there sometimes seemed to be no justification for some of the characters’ actions and movements.
In The Wake Of, by Michael Black, is a new play by Faded Ink Productions. It tells the story of Rob (Mickey Mason) and Chelsea (Rachel Morris), a seemingly normal couple going about their mundane lives, trying to making ends meet. All of a sudden Jimmy (Michael Black), Rob’s childhood friend, fresh out of prison, turns up at their door and cracks begin to form.
Faded Ink say their intention is ‘to perform plays which represent communities and walks of life that are not regularly touched upon in the theatre, bringing something real, grounded, passionate and based on personal experience.’ It is certainly evident in this play. The script is, by far, the strongest aspect of the play, it really comprises everything Faded Ink stands for in terms of theme and issue. The play tackles tough subjects such as mental health, LGBT representation, male domestic abuse and alcoholism. Some of these issues were glossed over as it is a lot to cover in 60 minutes. Yet there is a parallel with the way that society also glosses over these issues; in the play they are addressed but never actually solved. With a simple set, lighting and near to no sound, these issues were all the audience had to focus on, and the simplicity was a highlight.
For such a dark play the comedy elements are very strong and smart; welcome light relief amidst all the drama. This brings me onto the character of Razza, Rob and Chelsea’s good friend, played by Simon Morgan. Morgan’s portrayal of the nerdy, seemingly innocent, jellyfish enthusiast is brilliant to watch. We really see the strength of Morgan’s acting when Razza goes through an evolution, opening up about serious issues in his life. The audience laugh along with him as he tells the story of how he killed a cat, but as he goes on, his underlying issues become more and more obvious; no longer the funny friend, he executes this transition convincingly in just a single scene.
The pacing could be improved on. With lines coming in a beat too late and not enough punchy conviction to begin with, the play starts slow and drags on a little. The character of Chelsea could be a bit more convincing; she has little ticks and traits which I didn’t believe to be hers, but rather those of the actress that played her. This made it hard to connect with her as a character to begin with. Some of the pacing issues may be down to direction. For a very naturalistic play maybe that was director, Matt Strachan’s intention as it did mimic real life at some points. Yet certain moves and decisions the characters made, moving across the stage or the delivery of lines, seemed a predicable direction.
Having said this, the last 20 minutes or so really picked up and was the strongest part of the whole show. These moments of heightened conflict really showed the rawness within the characters, a rawness that was absent in the beginning. A special mention should go to to Paul O’Shea for the stage fighting, which was well staged and believable throughout.
With tickets at £8 this show is brilliant value for money and the intimacy of a black box theatre couldn’t be more appropriate, allowing it to hit close to home with its themes. Overall, this was a solid and raw production. If paced better and with a more dynamic opening, it has the potential to be brilliant.
Writer: Michael Black
Director: Matt Strachan
Producer: Michael Black/Simon Morgan
Box Office: https://camdenfringe.com/show.php?acts_id=2117
Booking Link: https://camdenfringe.com/show.php?acts_id=2117
Booking until: This show has completed its current run