Pros: A brilliantly written, well directed play with some outstanding performances and captivating relationships.
Cons: A few stumbles over lines and the occasional disingenuous moment means that it just falls short of a five-star review.
You can’t keep me away from the Finborough Theatre. This tiny performance space above a wonderful pub near Earl’s Court showcases some of the very best of the UK’s fringe theatre. The Busy World is Hushed is no exception. This UK premiere of American playwright Keith Bunin’s production about faith and family – and all the complications that come with both – is well conceived, brilliantly executed and utterly captivating.
Set in a New York apartment, Hannah, a self-assured minister played by Kazia Pelka, is at odds with her recently returned-home 26 year old son, Thomas, played by Michael James. Thomas is not convinced by his mother’s unquestioning faith and Hannah is not a fan of her son’s spontaneous way of living. Hannah hires a writer, Brandt, played by Mateo Oxley, to help her write a book on a recently discovered gospel, and romance unfolds between him and Thomas.
Michael James puts in an absolutely sterling performance as the flighty but charismatic Thomas. James so fully and effortlessly portrays Thomas, he feels like a friend by the end of the production. The Theological discussions and debates between the three characters are illuminating and fascinating, rich in depth and knowledge. Although, it must be said that the magic of the performance is slightly interrupted by Pelka’s occasional stumbles over her lines. Mateo Oxley convincingly plays Brandt with wit and consideration. Apart from a slightly awkward first kiss, the relationship between him and Thomas is lovely to watch.
A special mention must go to the playwright, Keith Bunin. The script is exceptionally well-written and the story unfolds with ease, clarity and drama. The direction by Paul Higgins is also very good, making clever use of the small space and incorporating creative scene changes.
In a world where unquestioning faith seems to be dwindling, and secularism surging, some important dialogues take place in this production. Some big questions are posed that we might all want to ask ourselves. At the end of the play, Brandt astutely observes “no matter how hard I try I can’t see God anywhere, just a space where he should be.” Is there a space for an all-divine being in our modern society? The Busy World is Hushed is an excellently written and well performed production, that simultaneously provides a space for debate between faith, agnosticism and disbelief.
Writer: Keith Bunin
Director: Paul Higgins
Designer: Marco Turcich
Lighting: Matt Cater
Booking Until: 25 November 2017
Booking Link: http://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions/2017/the-busy-world-is-hushed.php