Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

 

 

 

A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

Emily Hubert, The Forum London and Theatre503 present


I and The Village

 

I And The Village, Theatre503

courtesy of Natalie Mitchel

 

by Silva Semerciyan

Director: Robert Shaw Cameron

Designer: Jess Curtis

Lighting Designer: Rob Casey

Composer: Nathan Klein

Sound Designer: Harry Barker

Casting Director: Sarah Hughes

 

Theatre 503

 

9 June – 4 July 2015
 

 

Inspired by the playwright’s own hometown and shortlisted for the Bruntwood Playwrighting Prize, I and the Village is billed as a coming of age story that deals with questions around conformity, dissent and America’s devotion to guns. The promise of drama and intrigue is instantly cemented by striking sound and lighting which simultaneously plunge the audience into silence and pitch darkness before the action begins to unfold. Chloe Harris as the lead character, Aimee, channels all the angst, torment and confusion required to make her both believable and relatable. Morose and insecure while also exhibiting a brash stubbornness, Harris takes Aimee and her audience on an emotional merry-go-round.

Aimee’s mother Robin (Stephanie Schonfield) wishes her daughter was less resistant to conventionality. Aimee would rather be out doing graffiti than getting her yearbook picture taken. Desperately unhappy in her school life, she sees this frozen moment in time as just another potential trigger for her peers’ disparagement. With her mother as principal of the school she attends and her father largely absent since her parents’ separation Aimee already has plenty on her plate. Still, Semerciyan keeps introducing layers of complexity and by the time Aimee enters her local church with a gun we’ve added sexual relations with a significantly older man, rejection by her father, a hometown heaving with hypocrisy and a vitriol-packed exchange with a boy her own age to the endless list of potential motives.

With the rest of the multitasking ensemble dressed in white and the majority of the stage bathed in white too, Aimee’s casual colourful dress marks her out as the central preoccupation. A series of six cubes are used to represent everything from church pews to Aimee’s bed on an otherwise sparsely adorned stage. Anything the cubes can’t cover is demonstrated by the ensemble instead (a human wardrobe being a particularly notable example).

Though the climactic questions centre on guns, attitudes towards them and impulses when in possession of them, various outlooks on mental health are also explored. Aimee’s mother is desperate to have her admitted to a “structured living environment”, her mother’s boyfriend Randy seems to think all can be resolved by having “a nice cry in the shower” and her classmates at school have branded her weird and it’s stuck. All the while, Aimee collects misdemeanours like trophies and wields them as her weapons.

Lighting by Rob Casey is suitably dramatic and teamed with sound by Nathan Klein and Harry Barker, the tension often stings. Church singing intermingles with sounds like waves and seagulls to signify senses of place. Although all the ensemble work at a smooth and accomplished pace across their various roles, David Michaels stands out in this regard. He plays Aimee’s evasive father and her mother’s partner and Aimee’s lover as well as one of the congregants, a juxtaposition that lends its own unsettling element, and perhaps an insight into Aimee’s own inability to make distinctions or adhere to boundaries. 

In an attempt to find out the truth about what would force a young girl into as extreme an action as walking into a church with a gun, Mandy Hoffman (Charlotte Melia) muses over nature of truth itself, concluding that it’s a slow burn rather than a punch line. Similarly, while this production and delivery of I and The Village present a sense of immediacy and a visceral theatrical experience, the script itself and the myriad issues therein resonate long after the church and the theatre empty.

 

I And The Village, Theatre503

courtesy of Natalie Mitchel

 

Theatre 503
The Latchmere
503 Battersea Park Road, London SW11 3BW
https://theatre503.com/
Box Office: 020 7978 7040.
Tickets: £15/£12 (Pay What You Can Sundays)
Ages  12 +
 
 
 
 

Copyright © EXTRA! EXTRA All rights reserved