My Front Line

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Sasha Hails new play for the Bristol Old Vic.
By Gene - 1st Dec 2005
This play has, at its heart, an interesting scenario .... how would a 'Kate Aidee' cope with the domesticity enforced on her by having a young child and what would happen if she decided to mix the worlds of her family and her job - who would suffer, who would benefit?

Unfortunately, the play does not really get to explore this, or rather, it does not take us on that journey. The fault lies with the lack of a credible central character - in neither the writing nor the delivery do we get a sense of reality, a sense that these are actual thoughts of someone who has seen these sights, lived on this edge, felt these feelings, and now reports them to us. The langauge is too simplistic, it lacks the ability to create strong visual images (like a good reporter would) and it frankly fails to convey much in the way of truth or emotion.

Talk to those who have tried to clear up the mess that is Kosovo, or any man-made hell, and it will chill you; Gene David Kirk's Snowdrop, for example, has you smelling the rot and having the nightmares ... this play does not. And frankly, without an authentic central voice the piece has no-where much to go ... I was so un-involved I sat wondering why, if the baby sitter was living at the farm with her she had to "come over" every day - surely she was already there? If your audience is thinking things like this then you have not engaged them.

Movement occured without apparent motivation, the sand on stage made me think Beirut, Iraq and many other places but not the Congo and the pacing and vocalisation were flat.

The central character asks "Was I a good mother or a murderer", I thought that signposted the ending, but it didn't, in fact looked back on from afterwards I'm not even sure it made sense as a question but the real point is that at the end, I really didn't care, by then I was wondering where my car park ticket was.

Robert Iles


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