Scatter of Opinion

Grey Area

Polly Stenham


Expectations: 3/5
Reality Rating: 3/5
Fidget Factor: 0.3

Book Ends Of Each Others Life

‘I jump, I chose’ Our choice, to live or die. Is it mother nature’s decision to let us decay and suffer or can we make the conscious choice of when enough is enough. Polly Stenham’s NO QUARTER examines family relationships and the human side of mental illness.

NQ3Audience on both sides of the stage, silver buckets suspended between us with a single red bucket in the mix. Two brothers, Oliver and Robin, fight over their mothers disappearance. Robin has been keeping his mother, Lily, hidden in his kingdom whilst they devise a plan to end her life, to stop her suffering as she loses all knowledge of who she is. Secret’s are being kept, Robin becomes the subject of his fathers death as well as the aide to his mothers last breath. Broken and feeling lost, Robin’s world takes another hit when his brother cracks and declares Robin’s whole life has been raised on a mythology of lies. Tales that seemed more interesting to Lily than the truth.

Ryan Whittle plays a convincingly erratic and unstable Robin, wide eyed and racing through thoughts, it is evident when Robin is fuelled by drugs. Whittle conveys the epitome of a captured free spirit, a young man who thinks he possesses a higher intelligence and understanding of the world yet can’t get to grips with the necessities of day to day life. George Watkins gives a stern performance as Oliver, making it easy to imagine his day job in politics. His contrasting traits highlight Robin’s hysteria. Watkins manages to sustain this image, while at the same time, earning empathy from the audience when expressing his feeling of isolation from his mother and guilt filled loss due to their last argument.

NQ2Stenham’s delicious use of language and playfully composed humour tickles the audience. Robin, ‘high as a pilot’s crotch’ and dependancy on alcohol, ‘whiskey, tastes like tweed’. When Robin reveals that his mother’s memorial has been held on his birthday, he provides the poetic phrase, ‘Book Ends Of Each Others Life’.

This production squeezes huge amounts into ninety minutes; dementia and euthanasia, drug and alcohol dependancy, and social status – too many issues for the audience to keep up with, feeling slightly lost during the third section of the play until it’s brought back to the focus of Lily and her decisions.

NQ1A beautiful set of golden, polygonal animal masks are used during the performance, at first for a game of hide and seek and later as part of Robin’s drug fuelled hallucinations. A great design addition to this visually effective production.

NO QUARTER is only showing for a short period of time, hopefully this production will return to another theatre space soon for more audiences to experience this controversial tale of wrong and right, exploring the grey area of morality.

Click for Tix:@Network

▦ Photos – Courtesy of Jamie Scott-Smith

Time: 90 Minutes (No Interval)
Running:  13 JUL  16 ► 16 Jul 16

♥ Thank you to Theatre Bloggers for the invite
♥ Thank you to Greg for his Batch of Buckets

No Quarter

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