Writer: Marius Von Mayenburg
Director: Sam Pritchard
Reviewer: Sarah Nutland
The Public Reviews Rating:
We meet a dysfunctional family, which at first glance appears to be like many others, with somewhat alternative parents, a slightly deranged son and affected daughter. However, it soon becomes apparent that Kurt and Olga don’t have the usual brother and sister relationship and we watch their family unit burn until there’s nothing left.
All five actors give everything they’ve got, with thoroughly convincing portrayals of the very complex characters. The childlike and strange quality of Olga, played by Aimee-Ffion Edwards, contrasts brilliantly with the evil of Rupert Simonian’s character, making the play feel all the more sinister. Kurt’s fire and bomb obsession seems to really echo the turmoil that he feels inside. The family remain on stage at all times, with only the outsider Paul ever leaving. The actors’ constant focus and energy really holds the audience’s attention.
Sam Pritchard’s direction is distinctive, with overlapping scenes that move rapidly in to each other. The subtle changes in direction and use of chairs, creates fast paced action that holds the audience’s attention. There is the occasional scene interchange that seems a little disjointed, but overall they are seamless. The scenes around the table, which are played to the audience and the split bed scenes are inventive and work extremely well, forcing the audience to use their imaginations to fill in the blanks. This is also the case for the murder of the parents, which is beautifully suggested, but doesn’t actually materialise in front of your eyes, making it all the more disturbing.
The set is part minimalist ‘Shoreditch Chic’ and part plywood warehouse, designed by Amanda Stoodley. It works well in the context of the play, forming rooms and compartments for the characters to inhabit. The lighting, designed by Anna Watson, enhances the stark feeling of set and well represents the multiple fires as they catch hold. The use of lamps adds intensity to the scenes and is suggestive of the fires that will burn bright towards the end of the piece. The soundscape, provided by Peter Rice, works brilliantly to add to the sense of unease about what’s being observed and at points builds to such a crescendo that its almost unbearable, virtually inducing ear bleeding, but it perfectly compliments the buildup of action.
Taboo plays a vital a role in this extremely contemporary and very intriguing piece of theatre. It completely absorbs the audience into the warped world created by Von Mayenburg and then spits you out again feeling traumatised, but fully entertained. Well worth a look.