Nuclear Family

In this high-stakes, interactive drama, audience members assume the roles of judge, jury and executioner at an enquiry into recent events at a nuclear power plant. As things go from bad to red alert in a very short space of time, the audience are asked to make decisions for the two characters, security guards and siblings Joe and Ellen, highlighting how seemingly insignificant errors in judgement can have disproportionately disastrous consequences.

The decision-making process gets everyone involved - and can even get a little heated

The dialogue that begins the show is enjoyably slow-paced and naturalistic, very effective in developing a sharp sense of sibling rapport between the two characters and building a convincing picture of their lives. Detailed set and costumes add to this, as does the performance space, with the chipped paint on walls and floor effortlessly suggesting the aesthetic of a nuclear bunker.

From this point events escalate quickly. This rapid deterioration at times feels a little melodramatic, but the immersive tension of having to decide the two characters’ fates outshines this. At each juncture, the drama is paused to allow the audience to make their collective decision on what the characters would do. This sometimes feels a little disruptive, meaning that some of the story’s details become a little confused and need to be repeated to the audience. Nevertheless, the decision-making process gets everyone involved - and can even get a little heated.

Adam Devereux and Eva O’Connor bring energy to their roles, developing a very believable affinity between their characters. Director Jonathan Carr conducts the jury sessions as moderator with corporate attire and attitude, lending an enjoyably incongruous, impersonal contrast to the two central characters actually involved in events.

Unfortunately the slightly clunky event progression and lack of clarity on some of the details hinders the audience from becoming fully-invested in the drama. The original and quirky show design combined with some strong acting, however, make this a very fun Fringe experience.

Reviews by Iona Gaskell

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Nuclear Family is a gripping piece of interactive theatre which follows Joe and Ellen, nuclear plant workers and siblings, faced with an imminent disaster. Audience members will be privy to what could possibly be their last hours as they struggle with the biggest decisions of their lives. In a heated round table discussion, the audience will experience the pressure of making life and death decisions. From award-winning Sunday's Child Theatre. My Name is Saoirse and Fever Dream: **** (Scotsman). Rain: ***** (BroadwayBaby.com).

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