Pros: Impressive staging and lighting, and great chemistry between cast members.
Cons: Not for the squeamish. The plot is too broadly drawn to fully resonate.
This was my first visit to Theatre 503 in Battersea but hopefully not my last. It is of an impressive standard for a 63-seat pub theatre, and there was an excellent atmosphere before the show and in the interval. Although I didn’t eat there, the handsome Latchmere pub downstairs had some delicious smells wafting from the kitchen as well.
Escape the Scaffold, Titas Halder’s second play, follows the lives of university friends and housemates Marcus (Charles Reston), Grace (Rosie Sheehy) and Aaron (Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge). The play is told through both flashbacks to the trio’s student days and scenes set in a dystopic present, and looks at the love triangle that forms between Grace and the two men against the backdrop of an increasingly bleak Britain seemingly governed by an authoritarian leader.
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Escape the Scaffold is the show’s production values. The staging and lighting are of a very high standard for such a small theatre and play an integral role in building the show’s tension and suspense. The chemistry between the cast is also impressive, and their quick-fire quips are a pleasure to watch.
The play impressively builds tension through skilfully weaving flashbacks and present-day scenes together, culminating in a well-earned – if grimly violent – apex. I won’t spoil the scene but, considering that someone in the audience nearly fainted, I would strongly recommend anyone who feels lightheaded at the sight of bloody violence to think twice before watching.
Although the play does well in weaving in flashback scenes without becoming confusing, Escape the Scaffold fails to fully land due to the breadth with which the plot is drawn. While it is sadly not too hard for an audience today to fill in the blanks and imagine an authoritarian British leader lurking behind the play’s twists and turns, the world in which the story takes place is left a little too vague to leave a lasting impression. Some fine-tuning to provide more concrete details of the world in which the characters live and their roles within it would help to build Escape the Scaffold’s sense of unease and tension.
While the show doesn’t quite hang together to create a cohesive whole, Escape the Scaffold is an ambitious production with excellent staging and lighting, great cast chemistry and some bold ideas. I am interested to see what Halder does next.
Director: Hannah Price
Author: Titas Halder
Box Office: 020 7978 7040
Booking Until: 31 March 2017
Booking Link: https://theatre503.com/whats-on/escape-the-scaffold