The Drought

When the waters of the world dry up, who will be left victorious in the aftermath?

There are very few performances that have had me literally sitting on the edge of my seat

It has been three months since the water dried up; three months or what seems like a lifetime for the captain and his steward. With his ship mates out on the vast empty plains that was once the surrounding oceans searching for the mainland, the Captain (Andrew Callaghan) holds onto his faith that the waters will return and he (alongside his crew) will sail the seas once more and complete their mission of discovery. However with food and the last remaining splashes of liquid now starting to run scarce, it doesn’t take long for the delirium to kick in. It is here when an unexpected visitor arrives that brings a glimmer of hope into the eyes of our stranded survivors… or so we think.

The Drought, by Nina Atesh, pushes the boundaries of what it means to question one's faith. Highlighted significantly in Garson (Jack Flammiger), a dutiful Christian from a young age, he believes everyone should have a purpose in life, but when his religious faith is questioned he begins to seek his allegiance elsewhere. Taunted by the mysterious stranger about the captain’s loyalty to him, Garson battles with his inner saboteur on the rights and wrongdoings of his decisions on the ship. With the knowledge of the crew leaving due to the terrible treatment by their captain and having no intentions of returning to save him, Garson’s development throughout the play distinguishes his yearn to be a follower for a cause, regardless of the objective.

There are very few performances that have had me literally sitting on the edge of my seat. As The Drought continued through its one act, I was left questioning who would turn on whom at any given moment. The authenticity of each actor’s portrayal through their own psychological downfall really had me questioning what the real dangers were of the show. The drought itself? Or the breakdown of the men I saw before me. As the stanger (Caleb O’Brian) says, “For what is a captain without his ship? And what is a ship without water?”

For a company of three, each individually strong in their own performances, it was interesting to see such a fresh idea brought to life in a very intimate setting. With limited lighting on stage (due to technical issues), the dense lillumination added to the scale of this psychological thriller and credit must be given to the company for continuing to strive throughout the unexpected events of the evening. However, the build-up of tension and the crash of our characters' sanity felt a bit lost in an ending that seemed somewhat rushed.

Unfortunately, Pither Productions do not have plans to take the show elsewhere this year but they do have ambitions to take the production further with potential for adapting this for the screen and a coastal tour in 2023. Set up in 2022 the compnay is to be admired for its commitment to producing new writing from female, non-binary and working class writers. I would really urge anyone to follow what Nina Atesh has to offer as she navigates her course through the theatrical world.

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Reviews by Gareth Williams

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The Blurb

A Captain and his Steward of a Victorian British Navy vessel find themselves marooned at the bottom of the sea floor after the ocean mysteriously disappears.

Following a critically acclaimed run at the Kings Head Theatre in September, The Drought returns to The Old Red Lion for four nights only, as part of their GrimFest season

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