Review: Perplex

‘What will happen to us now all the apricots have run away?’

Brecht? Beckett? Nietzsche? Just don’t ask what its about…This week DramaSoc presents Perplex by Marius Van Mayenberg, directed by Julia Levai and produced by Esme Pitts. Running for an hour and forty five minutes without interval, this production effectively captures the Absurdist touches of Mayenberg’s text, whilst sustaining comic intrigue for the duration of the play.

Ted Weston’s entrance as adult Robert and subsequent shift to infantile Robert is seamless and very enjoyable to observe the complete change of characteristic. The dynamic between his character and that of Eva (Sophie Shepherd) is full of wit and well timed. A couple of articulation problems did not hinder his performance, and although at times certain scenes lacked energy, this was never for long. Sophie Shepherd’s performance of the neurotic and slightly delirious Eva is pure comedy gold and her physicality is so well sustained throughout it is difficult to take your eyes off her, especially during the group choreographed  sequence. Her attention to detail is unrelenting, down to the last nervous leg twitch. Dan South’s Sebastian is consistently funny and his comedic facial expressions add extra humour to scenes of unobvious hilarity. His energy is very  complementary to Mia Hamilton’s Judith, who’s hypersonic monologue towards the close of the play is delivered with astonishing stamina, clear and engaging to the last. The unison of this speech with Eva and Robert is a brilliant piece of direction. The strength of the cast is exhibited in their unanimous ability to multi-role without pause for breath, creating self-contained scenes which contribute to a sense of circularity running throughout. 

The strength of the cast is exhibited in their unanimous ability to multi-role without pause for breath, creating self-contained scenes which contribute to a sense of circularity running throughout. 

Despite the sparkling repartee of all the cast, there were a few lulls where the pacing of the action felt a little off. A difficult play to categorise, the bizarre humour and virtual smashing of the fourth wall will not appeal to everyone, and the end of the play will raise the eyebrows of those opposed to meta-theatre and all things self-indulgently Brechtian. Yet the production team should be congratulated for their innovative capturing of the complex script.

Lucy Poulton and Ruby Sevink-Johnston must be highly commended for their imaginative set, the main features of which are detailed chalk pictures that add a certain abstract and unreal quality to the character’s proceedings. Compiled with the sharp sound and lighting cues (Will Matlock, Hamish MacLellan) this is a production which will only get better and will be very unlike anything else you see this term.

Perplex is performing at the Drama Barn at 7:30pm on Saturday the 5th and Sunday the 6th of November.

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