Split Note Theatre delivers a play that is original in thought and creative in delivery. The black box theatre space at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington is filled with a sizeable cast that weave a tale of darkness. A tale that envelops the audience as it slowly and at times chillingly reveals the secret that each character holds. Bursts of emotions, flairing of tempers, screams of anguish and down right foul-mouthed denials wash over the audience as we witness the strange interactions of this particular common room.
Quickly it seems as if this is no ordinary common room with its loud hailer instructions and warnings. Inmates! Confined and restricted individuals are waiting or abandoned as the talented Luke Culloty (both writer and director) puts the justice system under scrutiny. Inmates patrol, prance and complain as they reveal their dark deeds with varying degrees of remorse. These dead weights of society often seem as much victim as perpetrator as they sink to the bottom of society with their misspent youth. Often isolated, radicalised, abused or maligned you wonder how this group could ever survive to tell a tale of triumph – their dice has been cast a long time ago and the outcome seems somewhat inevitable. But still they want to reach out – to kick back.
Anger will out and this anger seems common to all. As the newly arrived Lana awaits her verdict the inmates seem to party in the common room, and the party members pass the time with physical and vocal challenges. The characters reveal elements of their mysterious past, intriguingly revealing their actions bit by bit to suggest something of the glamour or the notoriety that surrounds them or maybe it is simply to entertain and pass the time as they shout and squirm, recall and recount a truth of some sort. When tensions rise, the electronic tagging kicks in and all are reminded that this chamber is being controlled from afar. Culloty seems to suggest that these criminals are perhaps victims also, not only of a justice system but of society at large.
The House of Commons is a noisy affair (nothing new there!) but here the speakers are rambling and strive to avoid responsibility or somehow justify their actions (still nothing new there!) It’s a sad and angry telling by an enthusiastic group and if at times cues are slow or overlap, or moves seem laboured it does not detract from their commitment to the piece and a feeling of confused helplessness is conveyed with passion.
Running until February 22nd
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