Really good contemporary theatre has the potential to be quite hit and miss. Martin Crimp is a playwright that audiences will either love or hate… there is rarely anyone on the fence. In the wrong hands, this abstract and “in ya face” writer could scar many a theatregoer for life.
Thankfully, nowyesnow’s latest production of The City is a shining example of how complex, contemporary and non-linear narrative can be nurtured and polished to produce truly exciting theatre.
The intimate space of the Bakehouse Theatre is opened up with clean lines and a real sense of roominess by acclaimed designer, Victoria Lamb. Lamb’s concept immediately transports the audience to a suburban landscape with little emotion or character, perfectly reflecting the central theme.
The ensemble of actors (including Lizzy Falkland, Chris Pitman, Anna Steen and Matilda Bailey) portray vignettes of suburban life, recounting moments in time that are all fairly common-place yet contain elements of obscure insight that hold emotion, humour and throws the audience just slightly off kilter to maintain intrigue.
Falkland’s measured delivery of lines at first is jarring, but all is explained as the play resolves and highlights the attention to detail throughout by both Falkland and director, Geordie Brookman. Pitman is an engaging performer who has an endearing quality despite an erratic character that leans towards the unhinged.
Brookman’s strong directing choices in this complex theatre piece are evident in the details (collaborating with stellar team, Lamb, Ben Flett on lights, Andrew Howard on sound and composition and Nicki Bloom as dramaturg). What’s particularly exciting about this production is that every piece of this production works together as one story allowing the fractured story to fall into place before our eyes.
The City is an engaging, contemporary piece of theatre that demonstrates the art of storytelling from a point of view that isn’t always comfortable… yet the result is ultimately satisfying.