As the audience waited for the performance to begin, the only object visible on the stage was a lone handbag. This bag represents the tragic downfall of the play’s principal characters: David and Jess. But while the character’s fates unravel, this production just keeps getting better.
A couple’s tragic fate
We open with David professing a dark secret concerning his late wife Jess (played by Sira Stampe) to an online admirer. This distinctly abstract beginning also allows us to see the full effect of the events to come on Jess’s mother and father (played by Sue Hansen-Styles and Bennet Thorpe).
Just when you think the actions of the various characters cannot get more deprived, the action takes a new and darker turn. Despite being an emotional rollercoaster, this is a play that is genuinely funny – in particular the hilarious dance routines by Bennet Thorpe.
The lack of chronology is a fantastic move by playwright Dennis Kelly, as it creates an illusion of inevitability as though the characters are pawns of the play’s real enemies: consumerism and the corrupting influence of money.
Bådteatret is the perfect setting for this play. The hull of the ship creates a dark and claustrophobic atmosphere, drawing the audience deeper into the production’s twisted satire.
The lack of definitive space between audience and actors is utilised perfectly by director Mia Lipschitz – and while the fourth wall is not broken, the actors peer behind it and draw their audience deeper into the action.
Malte Frid-Nielsen gives the standout performance as David, capturing the character’s descent into oblivion particularly well. Frid-Nielson forces the audience to confront an uneasy truth: they hate his character’s actions, whilst perhaps seeing a bit of themselves in his constructed ‘everyman’.
This is a thought-provoking play that provides quality entertainment, big laughs and great acting. Although first performed in 2006, its themes are just as relevant ten years later.