Engineer Theatre Collective strive to create visually striking, ensemble-led theatre by closely collaborating with designers and by using a combination of physicality, space and sound. Engineer Theatre is strongly influenced by Lecoq. Their previous show Run has been nominated for Best Director and Best Ensemble at the Off West End Awards 2016.
In their latest production The Gap In The Light, Engineer Theatre explore what scares us today. Before the performance begins, Simon Lyshon – who plays Ethan – talks a bit about fear and mentions a few examples of what people say scares them the most. The list does not just contain the obvious, such as global warming or divisive politics. Being afraid of the dark is one of the most common fears and as part of the show will be in complete darkness, Engineer Theatre runs a test to give the audience a chance to see if they are experiencing any problems so they have the choice to leave before the performance begins.
Ethan (Simon Lyshon) and Hana (Ellie Isherwood) are going to explore a deep sinkhole in Yucatan. Hana has tried for years to get a permit to research the cave where she expects to find pre-Columbian pottery. Ethan jumps at the chance of some off-time from his regular job guiding tourists on caving tours and he has the right connections. As they make their descent into darkness, the noises of the jungle cede and they only hear the cave breathe. It is a 500 foot drop to the bottom of the cave where they are planning to have their base camp. Hana slips but Ethan remains his cool and they safely arrive at the bottom. Enveloped by total darkness, with only a torch to create some artificial light Ethan and Hana begin to hear strange noises. Something is not quite right.
The first half of this show is deeply unsettling. Although the stage is completely bare except for a few props, the physicality of the actors create a labyrinth of caves where something mysterious and possibly quite horrible might be lurking. The thrust stage pulls the audience into the action. When the auditorium and stage are in complete darkness, our imagination is running wild, especially with Dominic Kennedy’s unsettling sound design and Oscar Wyatt’s lighting.
After the interval, Hana has returns to her London home and her boyfriend Daniel (Archie Backhouse). The flat is fully furnished and Hana is assembling a coffee table from IKEA, with more and less success. Hana is expecting a baby and Dan has got a good job on an oil rig. The future looks bright. But something has followed Hana from the cave.
If the remaining part of the production had lived up to the standard of the first half, this would be a truly outstanding show. However, the remainder of the show lacks cohesion, it feels fragmented and somewhat half-baked. The suspense and tension of the first half is gone. 3/5
Review written by Carolin Kopplin.
The Gap In The Light is currently showing at the New Diorama until 27th May 2017. For more information on the production, visit here…
Please note: Parts of this performance will take place in complete darkness. Please call the box office for more information.