"Intense, realistic and gripping play"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 21/11/15

Some plays have elaborate sets that sprawl over a large stage. However, “Claustrophobia”, produced by To The Moon and Theatre Bench, and directed by Sharon Burrell, goes in the opposite direction, taking minimalism to an extreme level. Two strangers, Aidan (Michael Cusick) and Rachel (Natasha Pring), are trapped in a tiny elevator. With no means of escaping, they can’t do anything other than wait. As the hours tick by, we gradually begin to learn about their backgrounds, revealing the inner demons that continue to drive them.

By choosing such an unorthodox setting, the production team took a large risk. Had the writing been weaker, the direction slacker or the acting less convincing, the end result could have been pretentious or even boring. Instead, it comes across as intense, realistic and gripping. Both the intimate Hope Theatre stage and the tiny performance space help the production by forcing the audience to focus on every word and action during the seventy minutes of stage time.

While the ending could have been a little more definite, you could argue that leaving things open to the audience’s interpretation is in keeping of the theme of Jason Hewitt’s play. Overall, this is strong production that evokes the feelings of the title.

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