Elysium Fields

Potemkin’s People is one of two shows performing on alternate nights under the joint title of Elysium Fields from B-Land Productions. It concerns a political prisoner telling her captor a new fable about the artificial manufacturing of a nation and its self-inflicted path to destruction under the guise of beating ‘the enemy’ with their new weapon - words.

Potemkin’s People is a remarkable play performed by a first-rate cast.

For the most part, Potemkin’s People is thoroughly enjoyable. It presents an entertaining blend of drama mixed with farcical comedy. The use of a large mirror facing the audience is a genius touch and used to excellent effect.

Laura Woodhouse’s performance was staggering. With her back to the audience for the majority of the performance thus communicating primarily through the mirror, she creates a character of many quirks yet one who is utterly believable. Tom Briggs’ performance takes a while to get going but eventually evolves into one of complete confidence and assurance. The comedic ensemble of four seem to have a neverending array of bizarre and amusing facial expressions and they take great delight indulging themselves with their lubricious characters. Emma Blacklay-Piech stands out with her performance as a malevolent capitalist mastermind which seems to have perfect comic timing.

Sam Knights’ script is clever, funny and well-written - very suitable for a play about word warfare or ‘wordfare’. Occasionally, however, it’s not quite as funny as it thinks it is. The play on the whole is rather self-referential and whilst this does work a fair bit of the time, there are moments where it’s laid on a little too heavily. A joke about the mirror just being a plot-device feels quite forced and falls flat, stealing precious time from the rest of the play. This is time that perhaps could have been used to further explore the relationship between the prisoner and her captor as it’s not quite clear when or why the captor’s opinion of her appears to change and soften.

As happiness dominates the end of the play, it becomes clear that there must be a dark twist coming. However when the ending comes, this revelation feels like it’s delivered with a mumble which was slightly disappointing. Nevertheless, Potemkin’s People is a remarkable play performed by a first-rate cast. With a bit of tightening of the humour and a slightly deeper exploration of its own setting, it could be exceptional.

Reviews by James Beagon

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The Blurb

Elysium Fields deconstructs one ancient myth and constructs a new one, through two alternating new plays. She Who Shines retells the myth of Persephone while Potemkin's People concerns a political prisoner writing a new fable, of architects trying to manufacture a utopia.

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