Friday, 10 August 2012

Innocent as a Child - Camden Fringe review

Written by: Woods (@Thomas_E_Woods)

Where did Woods watch it? 
Etcetera Theatre (Camden Fringe), London
Was Woods won over?

They say a little imagination goes a long way, and whilst one is left to ponder who ‘they’ are in Kaimera’s case, it proves to be true as their debut production effortlessly transforms the top of a pub into prisons and therapy rooms, all within the space of an hour. 

The play, Innocent as a Child written and directed by Geoff Williams focuses on the psychiatrist Dr Alistair Nagel (Finn Milton) as he attempts to piece together the truths and lies of Kyle Tubridy (Daniel Tremlett) and solve what others before him could not. The premise itself is a sound one, and indeed by following the good doctor it does raise the question of the reliability and validity of what the audience sees. Yet there is an overbearing feeling that it could be done more succinctly. As the play progresses more themes are brought in that ideas feel half explored, unnecessary or forced in varying degrees. There are a lot of good ideas, but for such a short play, running at just over an hour, it leaves an overall feeling of confusion.

Considering the actual production though, the young actors throw themselves into their roles entirely and credit must be given to Milton, who creates an utterly believable and authoritative Dr Nagel, as he tries to desperately piece together the notes of his colleagues and fit them in with his own therapy. Secondly, Tremlett; an at times sinister but often haunted Kyle. Use of space is equally effective, bar a few prison scenes, which feel slightly confused style-wise. We’re unsure as to whether we’re watching a naturalistic scene or otherwise, and thus they end up in neither camp. Likewise at times some character interaction feels misplaced: the large amount of physical contact within therapy sessions, for a boy with a history of abuse, feels somewhat unfitting. Other than this, scene changes are very slick with excellent lighting (Indi Shirley), which is superbly executed, adding immensely to the atmosphere. However it is apparent when scenes have changed, in part due to the dialogue which doesn’t always come across as consistent and at times feels clunky. Nevertheless the actors make the best of it, delivering lines with powerful emotion and credibility.

Despite its flaws, there are some very powerful and believable scenes within the play; two very haunting moments with Kyle are executed sensitively but with powerful force. There is some real talent in this new company and it is a shame that the script doesn’t quite feel entirely there. But it is an ambitious project and the team must be applauded for the effort they’ve put in. Whilst they haven’t quite made it this time, there is a lot of promise here - it just needs a little focusing.

This production has finished its run. 

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