Precious Little

4
Mon, 3rd Jun 19
Seen at the Brockley Jack Theatre.

Precious Little is an intriguing play. It raises too many issues and poses too many questions to be dealt with in 80 mins - I was left trying to make sense of all we had seen but failed to find the key. Language? Relationships? Science? Ecology? Human egotism? All these and more… Too much time is given to Zoogoers who provide comedy moments and comment on human stupidity, but this spoils the balance. Some of their chatter I ignored as I concentrated on Brodie’s bonding with The Ape. There is not enough development of Cleva and her daughter, who I found to be the most interesting characters.

Here is the fun: it may not be a great play, but the production made me think deeply about the issues. Kate Bannister directs and makes use of the full space, with excellent variety of pace. She allows time in the scene changes for the audience to process what they have seen and try to anticipate where it will all go. The three actors convince with all the characters they play. Jenny Delisle presents a confident, likeable scientist and her enlightenment gives the main track of the play. We share her sense of wonder as she opens herself to The Ape and recognises her previous rigid views. Jessica Kinsey has a challenge to differentiate multiple characters, often in dialogue with herself, which she does admirably. She is most convincing as the girlfriend and daughter. Deborah Maclaren is a delight in her three characters. There is nuance in each, in her physicality, voice and silence. Deft, efficient portrayal of The Ape.

The set and lighting (Karl Swinyard and Ben Jacobs) are very effective, from the cage to the subtle linguistic symbols on the rear wall. The atmosphere is established as soon as the audience enter. There seemed to be a lot of files and paper which made me question the period. With mobile ultrasound unit and sound recording studio, it seemed odd that they were not using handheld devices for their records.

The play is fascinating but not satisfying: the production and performances are high class. It is well worth the trip to Brockley Jack Theatre

Derek Benfield


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