REVIEW: UNREACHABLE (Royal Court) ★★★
‘Unreachable’ follows a film crew producing their film Child of Ashes. At the core of it all are the trio of director Maxim (Matt Smith), Producer Anastasia (Amanda Drew) and Director of Photography Carl (Richard Pyros), who have spent 10 years perfecting script, concept and collecting funding. Maxim is an eccentric man-child who is convinced there is a ‘perfect light’ he needs to fulfil his artistic vision. As this light never appears, he starts sabotaging his own project to give himself more time.
Anastasia is losing her nerve with his behaviour but is unable to deny him any of his wishes, as is overly blunt lead actress Natasha (Tamara Lawrance). Things are getting more complicated as one of the investors, Eva (Genevieve Barr), visits the set, and Maxim brings Ivan (Jonjo O’Neill) – commonly known as ‘the Brute’ – on board to stall production.
‘Unreachable’ is chaotic, charismatic and funny, a little bit disturbing, and mostly incredibly odd. On a bland backdrop of brick walls and reflector screens the actors play scenes that have been created in the rehearsal room. The quality of the play is remarkable for the fact that there has been no fully fleshed out script prior to its staging, but it is also obvious that it could have done with some more rewriting and structure. The story and characters are a bit cliché – how often have we seen the struggling creative director afraid of success – and very different to anything else at the same time. The dialogue is funny and weird, but very raw.
No doubt the artistic process was fun and entertaining to the cast and key creatives of this show – I wonder whether writer and director Anthony Neilson has found his ‘perfect play’ or is as eternally unsatisfied as fictional Maxim. Moments where the actors slipped in their performance and started chuckling about their lines were some of the most entertaining of the play.
‘Unreachable’ is most definitely an experience with a wonderful cast. When it is funny, it is hilarious, but I cannot help feeling it could have been so much more.
Reviewed by Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent
Photo: Tristram Kenton
UNREACHABLE plays at the Royal Court until 6 August 2016