23 Aug

This production is inspiring for its sheer energy and effort.

Beth Steel’s play, first produced in 2016, is set in the 1980’s. It’s the story of a crash: the over lending by American banks to Latin American countries, and the dreadful consequences.

It’s tempting to say this particular production is about finance and furniture removal; this epic play has many scenes, many locations and, as a result, changeovers make up a significant part of the action. Director Margaret Thanos, movement director Diana Paolo Alvarado, and a spirited cast handle these with aplomb. It all becomes a magnificent spectacle – which is thrilling to the degree to which one classes oneself as a spectator or as an audience member. But the time that must have gone into building and rehearsing these changeovers is mind blowing, and throws the gauntlet out to other theatre makers.

The tile is odd. Is it ironic? Few plays would be more obvious in their meaning: greed is bad. Some may feel it’s a story that doesn’t especially need to be heard (and judging by the soundscape that played through some of the scenes this might be a view shared by the creative team.)

Performances are truly exuberant, and generally effective. Matt Abotomey as the protagonist, John, is eminently watchable, embodying with bold physicality and emotional power the literary trope of the man seduced by power. Angus Evans and Brendan Miles both evoke the frightening obtusity of the privileged. Camila Ponte Alvarez’s Grace, a journalist who flags the wanton irresponsibility of the American lenders, is a wonderful portrait of intelligence and sanity in a small, crazy world. Tasha O’Brien and Rachael Colquhoun-Fairweather produce some comic magic.

I implied earlier that the story was an obvious one. Perhaps that’s a criticism. Or perhaps it’s not. That injustice is as familiar as dirt, as dust, simply urges on us fresh ways to shake off our complacency.

And both play and production give it a good hard shake.

Paul Gilchrist

Labyrinth by Beth Steel

Flight Path Theatre until Sept 3

Image by Clare Hawley

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: