Necessity may be a play about inventors and mothers, but there is nothing deep and meaningful in its story, acting or overall realisation – the related English proverb is most definitely a more intelligent turn of phrase. From start to end, this is an underwhelming attempt at unpicking the typical tensions of a marriage. Adultery; unemployment; paranoid suspicions; all of these should point to a tense production with plot twists and on the edge of your seat dramatic moments. But the audience is left with a luke warm (at best), stayed and thinly developed show that never moves anywhere, despite all its intentions.
Two neighbouring married couples provide the tension that Paul Macauley’s newly written play fails to explore and exploit. Necessity is a twisting tale that innocently begins with a wrongly delivered letter to Mish (Cerys Knighton) and Patrick (Tim Cook). Meant for their neighbours, out of work and intentionally nosey Mish opens it to reveal a hidden affair, an unwanted child and the ammo to destroy a relationship. Should they get rid of the letter and move on, or give it to Veronika (Vicky Winning) and Stephen (Will Anderson), a seemingly perfect couple with the perfect family, house and life just to watch it all unravel before them? The choice, in the end, only serves to bring destruction on both sides of the fence.
It is difficult to place blame on the actors, the direction or the writing here – all have more than enough faults that combine into this dreary mess of a show. Macauley’s writing is sparse at times; abrupt scene changes and plot twists give a disjointed storyline that misses all the ebb and flow present in more accomplished writing. The role reversal between Mish and Patrick is too sudden, inverting the two in the space of only a blackout. Both have their insecurities and paranoias that respective actors Knighton and Cook do their best to exploit, but neither are sufficiently developed as to evoke a sense of attachment or empathy from their audience. Knighton gives the most assured performance – Cook, Anderson and Winning by contrast are lacking in impact and believability.
There are a couple of interesting contrasting concepts that, given further development, may glean more meaning from the production. Mish and Patrick look through the gap in the fence into their potential future, seeing Stephen grow more detached from his family and Veronika become more deluded in burying all of his indiscretions in a desperate attempt to paint the perfect family picture. By the end it seems that, even though they are prewarned about the path in front of them, Mish and Patrick blindly stumble down it without hesitation – perhaps there is no escaping that pre-ordained road. But Necessity is not as its name suggests – necessity implies compulsion, an irreversible need to pursue regardless of consequence. The strength of its name is in no way reflected in Broken Silence Theatre’s production, which if nothing else is so poorly lit that half the time the audience are left clueless as to whether the actors are expressing any facial emotion at all.
Writer/ Director: Paul Macauley
Producer: Broken Silence Theatre
Design: Aran Knight (Sound); James Meikle (Art)
Cast: Will Anderson; Tim Cook; Cerys Knighton; Alex Reynolds; Vicky Winning
Runs until 4 February 2017 – visit the website to buy tickets