Neil LaBute's companion plays Land of the Dead and Helter Skelter explore a sudden change in life situations, portrayed through the lives of two couples. One meet after Christmas shopping, lunching and talking about their lives; the other part on an autumn day, one to a clinic and one to his office. They explore their relationships in conversation - to each other, or to the audience. The plays are usually presented together (indeed, they originally were so), and The New Salisbury Players have added the twist of using the same man in both, with his female counterpart changing actor between plays. This pair of plays was a celebrated one when presented by the Gate Theatre a few years ago and, sadly, it's only the text that bears any similarity between the productions.
The New Salisbury Players' acting is rather wooden and forgettable. The direction takes some interesting steps that could be promising - using the same male actor in both plays, for example, or the physicality behind moments of built and then dipped tension that LaBute's script so expertly presents. Unfortunately though, all the passion and power of LaBute's writing is not only forgotten once the actors step on the stage, it's also trampled on over the course of the performance; this isn't even bad in the 'really funny' way. Stray away, lest you find yourself wishing you, rather than see this show, were in the land of the dead.