"Dystopian for Perfectly Desired Effect"
by Christopher Graham for remotegoat on 22/05/14

Grey-suited Ted was sat at a desk when we arrived. Looking agitated, we were made to feel his anger from the beginning. There were a few touches that tickled our curiosity, including the coin jar and the seemingly awkward falling-off-the-chair scenario that resulted in some tepid laughter. The set up overall was perfect: the audience were placed in the round and a nice calming music provided some balance and created a very surreal atmosphere.

I think that's the word to sum up the main body of this show - surreal. Characters Fleming (David Garrett) and Buchanan (Ethan Holmes) were perfectly cast. The two inspectors were so very different in every respect, yet had a powerful bond which told us a story of its own. Garrett was superb throughout. The quality of his performance allowed us to react and transported us to a different place, which excellently complemented the dystopian world in which the show was set. His gesture, voice and timing were just perfect. The cop duo was completed by Holmes's portrayal of Buchanan. Again, a flawless performance. What really worked was this actor's ability to hold his character 100%. Whenever he was off dialogue he didn't stop, which just rounded the show off, and forced us to believe that what we were watching was actually happening. Kevin Dewsbury as Ted bolted the story to the ground and thanks to his seamless craft, we walked with him through innocence, frustration and delirium. A difficult role, but spot-on all the same. It was great to see such tight acting from beginning to end, and the finesse with which both they and director Karl Barnsley must have worked paid off and gave us a treat worth savouring.

The playwright, Matthew Gabrielli, deserves a section of his own. Such a cleverly constructed script containing such topical and current issues, intertwined with the harsh imagination of utopia / dystopia, deserved an award. Social and political comments on 'the System', efficiency, hacking, privacy and media were just some of the everyday bullet points that were ticked off the list. Such clever metaphors punctuated the dialogue - one being of fishing and the concept of "what to do when the fish is caught". All thought-provoking and intelligent inclusions. It was also great to see how characters' traits unfolded via interrogations. Not only of the suspect, but also of the officers themselves. Well done, Gabrielli.

Director Barnsley had a job on his hands to keep the flame burning with this play, and he certainly managed it. The positioning of characters and the perfectly-rehearsed physical attack scene were both intriguing and exciting to watch, which is often something directors don't bother refining. The props used in the play were thought out and those with an eye for detail would have been very very impressed by the level of organisation that came through. The simplicity of the set-up was exactly what the script needed.

An outstanding play. I really do recommend those who haven't seen it to go. The Kings Arms is certainly benefiting from these performances, and companies like the Lion Tamers are doing it proud.

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