Your best friend from school has been arrested for having a collection of child pornography on his laptop. What do you do?
The actors sat amongst the audience, discussing, talking plainly, or as plainly as they can muster, about a topic no one wants to talk about
The play starts with the actors sat amongst the audience, discussing, talking plainly, or as plainly as they can muster, about a topic no one wants to talk about. And we’re drawn in. Not just drawn in, in fact; we’re a part of it. It feels like it’s our problem, it feels like we might have known Daniel too, and it feels as if we’re part of the discussion and it feels... it feels like our heart is breaking along with these people. Why did Daniel do this?
Poignant, intelligent and human, Daniel is a tour de force piece. Brilliantly performed with incredible realism and connection, Daniel asks the question, without actually asking it, why we aren’t talking about this? We’re so quick to villainize the offender, which, as this piece explores, is fair - but do we attempt to understand it? Often we don’t. It’s easier to villainize, join the mob. Cut those people out of ordinary society. But what if it was your best friend who was the offender?
There might be slight room for improvement, but not much. The shift from the verbatim style dialogue in the audience to microphone segments can be a bit jarring and alienating but they also help the pace of this powerful devised piece. Poised and natural silences allow the discussions and emotions to really sink in and the approaches to this difficult subject are varied and expertly realised.
Daniel is exceptionally worthy of the accolades it has begun to accrue; winner of the Collaboration Award and a Commendation for Directing at NSDF, it’s likely that it will pick up more as it continues in September at the Camden People’s Theatre.
There’s humour amongst the pathos in this nuanced and emotionally charged drama, with intelligence to boot and a profound humanity. Don’t be put off by the subject matter, avoid that no thank you thought you might have when you hear about Daniel. This is an exceptional work of art that deserves a great deal of attention.