As children, we’re encouraged to use our imaginations, placing our faith into institutions such as the existence of Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny. However, as time goes by, we’re often taught to think objectively and logically, pushing aside alternative explanations and modes of thought. Whether you share spiritual beliefs or not, we all place our faith in something or other, or do we?
A collaborative project combining a thrilling and fragmented script from Bryony Lavery and Frantic Assembly‘s daring and arresting performance style, The Believers questions what it means to be a person of faith. Drawing two couples together on a night of unpredictable thunder storms, wits are challenged and truths are painfully realised.
Drawing parallels with the recent floods that destroyed the homes of thousands of UK homeowners at the beginning of 2014, the production is immediate and resonant in its intentions of placing the physical and emotional affects of a natural disaster at the fore. Having dominated the headlines earlier on in the year, the production brings to light the proximity of the event through married couple Marianne (Eileen Walsh) and Joff (Christopher Colquhoun), as they find themselves literally yet metaphorically having to pick up the pieces in their attempts to build up a new life. Walsh and Colquhoun magnetically draw the audience along a tumultuous roller coaster of tempestuous arguments and laugh out moments as they attempt to acquaint themselves with their mellow and religious neighbours Maud (Penny Layden) and Ollie (Richard Mylan). The quartet entertainingly clash as tensions sizzle and belief systems are tested; the concept of religion and belief constantly under the spotlight as non-believers Marianne and Geoff question whether religion and belief are simultaneous, or two completely different ideas.
The cast seamlessly transition from heated disputes behind closed doors, to awkward and humanising attempts to keeping up appearances once all together, incorporating Jon Bausor‘s metallic blueprint inspired stage design. Using an angular shell of a doorway, the ensemble enthrallingly perform Eddie Kay and Scott Graham‘s fearless and slick choreography packed full of sustained leans and lifts, whilst travelling through the climbing frame set piece; creating the illusion of multiple rooms. The slanted spider web doorway elevated upstage centre adds a hint of the weird and the wonderful, an Alice in Wonderland world of oddly shaped rooms and perspectives. Perspectives continually shift, from the conventional use of the black box stage, to a birds eye view look into the lives of the two couples.
Scott Graham‘s production simmers with a sense of unease. Contained in sequences of the lighthearted, lay embedded secrets that threaten to interrupt the couples day to day lives. The cast relentlessly battle between the trials and tribulations of parenthood and their own personal relationships; as Andy Purves‘ lighting design startlingly highlights both couples state of turmoil through eerie moments of darkness and exposing moments of light. Carolyn Downing‘s sound design unsettles and alarms; a combinations of scathing, screeching and billowing notes that further illustrate a landscape of uncertainty, unrest and the unknown. 4/5
Frantic Assembly’s The Believers is currently showing at the Tricycle Theatre until Saturday 24th May. For more information on the production, visit here…