Theatre Review: “No Wonder”

Article published: Tuesday, February 2nd 2010

Library Theatre, showing as part of the Re:Play Festival

27 January 2010

No Wonder is the examination of a family disturbed by tragedy. The plot is littered with would-be fairy-tale circumstances; a young boy bursts out of what could be a magical cupboard and his father, dressed as Peter-Pan, appears to fall out of a window. There are no ‘happy ever after’ solutions in this play, however: the cupboard is not magical and Peter-Pan does not think happy thoughts, nor fly back from adversity. The man dressed as the boy who never grew up instead crashes to the cold, hard ground and into a coma.

The story is relayed through two monologues as mother and son explore their reactions with strikingly surreal imagery and twisting, convoluted sentences. Pigeons become night-club bouncers, eyes become glazed and the ‘Forcelator’ rollercoaster ride is described in intricate detail. Most interestingly, the two characters never enter in to dialogue, remaining isolated in their worlds and each see-sawing between hope and desperation. Edward Franklin’s portray of Luke as a bright-eyed, hyperactive and enchantingly naïve son is outstanding. The at times complex language might have proved unconvincing and confused, coming from a young child, yet here the delivery is sensitive and engaging.

The set is appropriately stark and unobtrusive. Skewed strip lighting hangs hopelessly over an empty hospital bed centre-stage. Clair Urwin’s play is dark, depressing and real, and the memorable performances and slick direction complement the somber mood. No one will leave the theatre with a proverbial ‘spring in their step’ but they will be moved all the same. This is powerful stuff.

Rachel Jackson

The Re:Play Festival runs until Saturday 6th February. See here for more details.

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