This is right royal performance from a talented young troupe hailing mainly from Central School of Speech and Drama. Text and physical theatre fuse with real skill and split-second timing in this tight and touching piece of new writing by Daniel Cameron. It is well-paced and crisply directed by Jordan Blackwood, integrating physical aspects of the performance effectively both in scene changes and within episodes. The lighting design is variously subtle and dramatic, intensifying the moments of transition.
The ensemble work here is tremendous. In some of the physical set pieces, the three move as one, almost breathing the same air
We Were Kings follows the shifting relationships between this tight group of twenty-something friends when they meet up on their return home. The back-story is told through flashbacks, fleshing out the characters and the situation in which they now find themselves. All three are in one sense or another losing their way. Max (Thomas Lawrence) arrives back from his deployment in an unspecified war zone which has left him anxious about his return. Best friend Jack (Abe Buckoke) is consumed with the effervescent but somewhat directionless Rosie (Marieta Melrose). The three are clearly close, having shared much history, but there is a tension which becomes more evident and explicable as their narrative develops.
The relationships here are natural, the tension palpable and the acting breathtaking at times, but it’s not even. With her careful enunciation of every consonant, Rosie could just as easily be in an elocution class and, while that might be something carefully honed for the character, it jars. It would be good to see what this actor can bring to the table if she were to find another way of expressing Rosie’s guardedness.
Having said that, the ensemble work here is tremendous. In some of the physical set pieces, the three move as one, almost breathing the same air. This is an impressive piece of theatre: three kings they may have been, but clearly from the same dynasty. And they’ve earned their crowns.