Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Dance review: Nuclear War
Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Gerrome Miller, Beatrice Scirocchi and Andrew Sheridan are mostly wordless as everyone else she encounters, an often threatening presence who sometimes even hide their faces under masks and stockings.
This being Simon Stephens, who wrote a play about the 7/7 bombings called Pornography, a play about a school shooting called Punk Rock, and a play about fuck knows what called Wastwater*, one thing Nuclear War definitely doesn't seem to be about is nuclear war. Being largely told through abstract movement it's obviously open to interpretation, but although the text obviously takes grief as a general starting point, I saw it largely as Knight showing the woman's internal anxieties taking physical form, her fear of how to go back out into the world made flesh by the other four actors' aggressive body language towards her.
Chloe Lamford's set is a plain white box with a few unrelated objects - bits of furniture, bricks, teacups, a heater, a speaker - being moved around by the cast to create various locations, and the plain design allows Lee Curran's lighting to reflect the focus on specific colours that are mentioned in the script. It's not always successful at holding the attention - I did get distracted at one point thinking how inevitable it was that Stephens would end up working with Robert Holman's muse Andrew Sheridan, and a moment where the cast tried to eat tangerines through tights gave me unfortunate flashbacks to a fruit-fixated Oresteia - but at 45 minutes it doesn't try the patience but provides enough to get the brain whirring around its possible meanings.
Nuclear War by Simon Stephens and Imogen Knight is booking until the 6th of May at the Royal Court's Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.
Running time: 45 minutes straight through.
Photo credit: Chloe Lamford.
*he did also write a play called The Trial of Ubu that was about the trial of Ubu, but then he got Katie Mitchell to direct it so that it wasn't about that any more.