“Remarkable theatre worthy of standing ovation”
With an intricate set and haunting musical score, it’s clear from the off that this is a show that pays close attention to detail and creativity. And while, on the whole, this focus creates some remarkable theatre worthy of the standing ovation it received in this performance, for me at times it does border on being a little too artistic for its own good.
The story is fairly simple: homeless Jack (Bradley Thompson) is unable to sleep, as dreams of his aggressive, alcoholic mother haunt him. But he is able to overcome his demons by helping Sophie (Dorie Kinnear) – another homeless person he meets on the streets – from winding up in the same situation thanks to boyfriend Pete (Tom Stacy).
Told in a very visual way, we get to see into the darkest depths of Jack’s mind: the buried secret he’s been living with for so long, and the struggle he has to go through just to be able to help someone else. In terrifying flashback sequences, Jack becomes a child puppet and his mother a domineering masked figure whose eyes bleed while she brandishes a wine bottle, and in the most gut-wrenching of these she actually smashes the bottle on his head. The music, lighting and other effects come together in these moments to create a gripping dramatic intensity, made all the more stark by the slick changes back to the “real” world and its emptiness.
Through clever use of a repeated street scene (demonstrating the relentlessness and drudgery of homelessness), we see Jack’s journey – from tripping over faceless individuals he’s too scared to look at to start with, to their smiles and humanity at the end when he finally wins through. It’s a really powerful story, and Thompson more than delivers with raw emotion in this physically demanding role. Credit also to Kinnear and Stacy for every other character they play between them, as well as their handling of masks, puppets and various props.
While the visual and technical aspects of this show are absolutely outstanding, one of my main niggles is the appearance of the life-size talking pigeons towards the end (no, I’m not making this up). At this point in the show a bit of light relief is exactly what is needed to break up the emotional intensity of the previous scene, but this device cheapens the production and wholly detracts from what otherwise is a complex and well-thought through piece. To me this is one example of where Theatre Temoin try a bit too hard to be too creative, and at times I would have preferred a little less focus on all the “stuff”, and more on the basics of the acting and narrative.
The Marked is a stunning and unique performance, but perhaps just a little overreached creatively.
Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 12 August)
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