Zoo Playground – Playground 1
Identity is a struggle for a lot of us. A thing almost constantly in flux depending on who we are with, where we are and what stories we tell ourselves. For actors, identity can be even more complex: where do their characters end and they begin? If you’re an actor but you’re not currently acting, then what are you? Are you a bar tender or an actor – are you both? This duality is at the core of Truth/Reconciliation, a production that intimately examines the difficulties and distresses of being a burgeoning actor.
The piece is incredibly intense. The stage is largely bare but for a microphone, light bulb and camera. Bea (Hannah Morrison) and Alex (Jake Felts) alternately take control of the microphone, whisking us down whirlwind stream-of-consciousness insights into their lives. The use of projection is particularly mesmerising. Using the camera on stage, a live-stream of the play is often projected back on to the actors, but just a fraction behind the action. Sometimes the form is broken slightly and pre-recorded images are beamed onto the character’s faces. These impressive visuals are highly effective in highlighting the dissonance between their actions and identity as performers. The world they create is incredibly evocative.
Both Morrison and Felts are truly quality performers. Whilst Bea delivers more of the sympathetic, touching moments of the show, Alex is responsible for driving the intensity to an almost grating level. Whilst the majority of time is spent frenetically, fizzing with the energy of youth, it was the slower and more reflective moments that I felt elevated this performance to truly moving heights. The explorations of exploitation and loneliness in particular were both heartfelt and arresting. Matthew Goldesbrough’s script contains moments of real poetry. A play of astonishing vigour and heart, Truth/Reconciliation confronts the knotty core of what it means to perform and grapples with the oxymorons of who we are. Alex and Bea might not be able to tell you exactly who they are, but spending time with this company, in that space, listening to their story – it left me knowing myself a little better.
Directed and Written by: Matthew Gouldesbrough
Produced by: Elegy Theatre
Truth/Reconciliation plays until 20 August. Further information and bookings can be found here.