The Brighton Rep Theatre is a new company trying to achieve an admirable goal; repertory theatre for the local audience employing local professionals. Yet I couldn’t help wondering how choosing Bash fitted this vision? La Bute’s plays are strongly linked in the psyche to midtown America. Yes, the overarching theme of revenge, spite and evil are universal, but is this specifically theatre for local people? Matt Lloyd Davies writes in his programme notes ‘…give local people the theatre that they want and not necessarily what the Directors think they need…’. Is this the show local people want?
Bash is a collection of short one act plays written by Neil La Bute. In this production we get only two; the two monologues. They are a dark exploration of human nature and in both the characters confess evil deeds from their past that we assume they got away with but continue to live with; it’s written in true La Bute style, aiming to deliberately bash you over the head with shocking imagery.
The opening monologue is performed by Joshua Crisp. Although he has control of the conversational flow and the accent of this American businessman, I wanted a performance with more depth, more emotional peaks and troughs. I tried to be moved but sadly I wasn’t. It’s a large, juicy monologue and one that has to be spellbinding in its delivery. Whilst the storytelling aspect of the piece came across well, in this small intimate space I wanted to be seduced, shocked and pulled into this harrowing story.
The second monologue performed by Amy Sutton started as a stronger performance. Sutton’s character had a believable journey and her performance clearly reduced one member of the audience to tears. Although it was hard to contend with the noise coming from the upstairs pub and the ice machine churning out cubes behind the curtain, I needed Sutton to project more. I understand her choice of making her performance intimate but at times I lost whole sentences, which I think made me disconnect with her character.
Both actors retained their believable standard American accents throughout and this night of storytelling will certainly leave you thinking as you exit the venue. It’s a bold choice and one that nearly hits the mark. I hope that this company does continue to grow and perhaps next time they can find a better venue. One with a door would be nice.