Alcatraz

To have in the publicity for your show the remark that 'an artist’s masterpiece is a spectator’s nightmare' is a dangerous hostage to fortune. Fortunately these five talented actors from Airborne Theatre Company give compelling and professional performances which cover over the cracks of what is an interesting but flawed script.We are greeted by all the performers on stage (though one is initially concealed) and a bar of music played over and over on the sound system. As we move into the play this music resolves and we recognise it as the intro to 'Dream A Little Dream Of Me'. We are then introduced to a young woman who appears to have recorded on a tape recorder (remember tap recorders!) the 'conversations' of several occupants of the same hotel room over a period of time. Through this device we are served up, in increasingly enigmatic (frustrating?) sound bites, snatches of four other people’s experiences in the room (and, indeed, other rooms).I won’t spoil any of what follows by telling you what happens, though the truth is, what happens is a little unclear and confusing. The performances, though, generally keep you engrossed. Unfortunately no press pack or cast list was available when I saw it, so I can’t credit the excellent direction either. My main problem with this play is the tone. All of these people appear damaged in some way, but the piece is simply displaying this, not asking us really to contemplate how things might be different or made better. As the players are all very young and healthy, it’s rather overpowering, all this misery in those so young. A few more gags would have helped! It wouldn’t have undermined the piece’s power, in fact it would have made it more powerful. The script also has a tendency to seem portentous and over clever. One of the characters confesses to 'being familiar with the weight of being a survivor without having survived a tragedy'. Eh? Some of the way the set is used is clever and concise, but overall was symptomatic of a production that was trying too hard to be clever. As said, the acting is terrific and focused, but would have been better used on a better play.

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The Blurb

One moment will create, destroy or alter perspectives. 'Alcatraz' explores the perforations in the walls of perception, as characters invisibly influence and disturb one another without knowledge or intent. 'Every window on Alcatraz has a view of San Francisco.'

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