Aug 11 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆     Post-apocalypse absurdity

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39): Sun 7 – Sat 27 Aug 2022 (odd dates)
Review by Hugh Simpson

Although Beneath, from New Celts and Lighter Fluid at theSpace on the Mile, never delivers on its initially promising premise, there is much to admire in the way it is presented.

Daniel Gee Husson’s play is set in a mysterious bunker below a world that has been flooded by a climate catastrophe. Four of the few remaining human survivors are left with difficult choices.

The cast of Beneath. Pic: Lighter Fluid

The script deserves credit for dealing with pertinent issues, and pulls few punches in its description of the complacency of current humanity. It also is interesting in the way that the characters as written do not seem tied to any particular gender.

There are real problems with the play, however. Its structure is decidedly odd, and simply billing something as ‘dark and absurd’ does not mean that all logic goes out the window.

Much of the story, including the characters’ backgrounds, is left decidedly opaque, which is fine. However, it strains credulity well past breaking point that the two central characters, Tess and Jo, should somehow (it is never explained exactly how) find themselves in a vast underground tube, sit in one section for months on end, and then all of a sudden be consumed with curiosity about what lies elsewhere.

considerable brio

The dialogue is sharp and well written, however, and Cameron Beattie (Tess) and Winter Reid (Jo) perform it with considerable brio. Beattie has a desperation that is compelling, while Reid has an pleasingly spiky brittleness. The relationship between the two, although less than coherently portrayed in the script, does convince.

The other two cast members, Kris (Phoebe Dunham) and Dani (Jorgie-Louise Buchan) suffer from having comparatively underwritten roles, but the two performers discharge them with considerable skill.

Director Karin Saari has managed to inject real pace into the production, with fight choreographer SJ Valiquette’s work also notable. Zoe Young’s sound design also works well, with Delaney Tesch supplying an effective set and some intriguing costumes.

Having supplied such an enticing set-up, the play then fails to develop it convincingly. Nevertheless, the commitment cannot be faulted.

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
theSpace on the Mile (Space 3), 80 High St, EH1 1TH (Venue 39)
Sunday 7 – Saturday 27 August 2022 (odd dates only)
Odd dates only at 11.30 am
Information and tickets: Book here.

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