"friends caught in chilling circumstances"
by Jen Soame for remotegoat on 29/03/17

From the first scene Escape the Scaffold swathes itself heavily in intrigue. Focussing on a reunited couple of friends, and a soon-to-return husband, they speak of societal unrest, the need for hiding and compulsory compliance to a regime. They have a friendly spark between them despite the long absence from each other, which begs the question of how very normal friends are now meeting in these abnormal circumstances.

The mystery continues throughout the play. This is Titus Halder’s second production, following the success of Run The Beast Down, and it is psychologically chilling. Timely in our current era of revolution against ruling powers, the three characters jump between scenes of comfort and distress, separated by ten years, but hauntingly taking place in the same house. Once a house of university student banter and drinking games, events turn towards betrayal and redemption and finally escape through desperation. Something has happened in the world – is it a necessary uprising or simply a nuisance to the superior classes?

The actors are young and highly talented. In their younger depictions, they banter with excellent comic timing and perfectly depict insecurity yet adoration for each other. Rivalry between the two males masquerades as banter, only possible through their shared arrogance and therefore perceived superiority over the other, quelling their insecurities. The female is torn between the safety and security of one and the arrogant charming rebelliousness of the other and it is the latter coupling that truly charms in scenes as Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge embodies the besotted tragic character Aaron excellently.

All played on one set, simple furniture and costume changes identify eras well and between-scene transitioning is unique and beautifully smooth and also relevant to the time-shifting plot.

Titus Halder is dealing with human emotion and the complex interplay between friends, lovers and rivals. He has taken normal people and developed a society around them that causes them to be extremes of themselves, their personalities exaggerated for the sake of pure survival and allegiance to a side. Although in a slightly different context you can’t help formal parallels between the world in 2017 and the situations formed in this play and a certain feeling of dread unfolds within the viewer. Visions of global apocalypse aside, this is an excellent play from a new playwright which achieves incredible intensity and drive.

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