A Parkinsons’ sufferer is drawn into crime against his better judgment simply to receive a drug to alleviate his symptoms; a young loafer is forced to work against his will for his philandering prospective brother-in-law; a neo-Nazi blogger is willingly interviewed about his beliefs, but his own life experience makes him change his opinion. These three separate strands weave together in a play that challenges perceptions of what’s right and what’s wrong, and asks, how far down the line will you go to do the wrong thing in the pursuit of the right?
I have a theory that all the best works of art, literature, and so on are those where the writer/artist didn’t know where it was going to end up and let his characters decide for him. I got the feeling, as this play progressed, that this was the case with this play. I think perhaps it started with the theme of somehow exploring the dark web and its uses/users but the characters and their relationships were strong and very realistic, and I can imagine they really took control and moved the story on to a very different final place. Whether I got that right or not, I really enjoyed the journey that these actors and their characters took us on; it was fascinating to see which characters would gain redemption, which would be punished for their ills, which would get off scot-free, and so on. I found it really engrossing, and didn’t want it to end.
Tom Garland gave us a very credible characterisation of the decent, if a bit lazy, young man who ends up working for his brother-in-law-to-be only to find out that the latter drops his trousers at the first sight of skirt; but who is basically blackmailed into keeping quiet about it – not that his cantankerous father would believe him anyway. He’s a very good example of someone who is almost too decent for their own good. He also took perhaps the least interesting role, that of the journalist interviewing the neo-Nazi, but maybe it was his straightforward, open nature that allowed his interview subject to open up so honestly.
Matt Kitson was excellent as the Nazi – spouting off offensive words as though they were mere platitudes – which certainly sounded uncomfortable in the church – whilst still being exceedingly polite and mild-mannered; that characterisation was a really interesting concept. I enjoyed seeing him going through his self-questioning phase, and found his final incarnation, partying with his new eastern European friend to the beat of Polski Pop, both believable and really endearing! He also did an excellent job as the Parkinson’s sufferer’s mate; the opening scene where he is trying to be supportive, despite being rejected by his friend, due to the friend’s own frustrations and anger, was totally credible and indeed I recognised myself in the same situation in the past. A very good performance.
Perhaps strongest of all was Chris Drew, as the guy with Parkinson’s, adopting the symptoms with true accuracy, expressing his irritation and resentment at what the disease has done to him. I loved the way he took us through the character’s trials and tribulations and how we all came out on the other side together. He was also excellent as the volatile father, refusing to listen to sense, and also in the minor roles of the Office Supervisor and the Polish Pal. For each role he adopted a clearly different voice and accent and they’re all superb.
Definitely one of the most absorbing plays in the Festival, combined with three excellent performances. Perhaps this could be developed more and maybe have a new life in the future? I would hope so!