Reviewed by Alex Foott
Performance date – Thurs 1st Aug 2013
The apocalypse has become one of the most fashionable themes in pop culture. Fascinated as we are with the annihilation of our own world, I was not expecting much originality from this piece. Thankfully, I was wrong.
Andrew Sheridan’s latest work offers us a fresh and unexplored perspective, demonstrating the fundamental human desire for both society and family, even if we are utterly isolated. The play is set in an abandoned basement and interestingly we are never shown the carnage outside. Both script and staging are extraordinarily graphic; the lady in the seat next to me actually squealed and writhed with discomfort! Faced with abhorrent images, we are forced to explore those thoughts we tell ourselves we never have.
Oddly there are spurts of humour in this dystopia. Ben Lee is wholly believable as Rafferty, a young man emerging from the dregs of civilisation. His physicality is exceptional, combining agitated paranoia with a desire to control. Rafferty re-establishes the redundant notion of hierarchy and dominates the basement, previously owned by Edward (Alex Austin). The pair successfully articulates the dual concerns of status and survival and they agree to share the space. However their relationship is interrupted by the arrival of a blind old man named Bleach (Richard Evans). Evans’ performance style is completely at odds with the younger men which actually serves to heighten the theme of ageism that runs throughout. Save for a few moments of awkward crying, his detached and poetic delivery is quite appropriate. There are also a few moments of directorial self-indulgence which shock and repulse the audience yet overall, Suba Das’ vision is aptly bleak and ultimately, unnerving.
Where the majority of apocalyptic fiction confronts us with the horrors we are to expect in the future, Hope Light and Nowhere displays what lurks in the shadows of our own time. It asks us to judge the construction of society and understand that we are trapped by our ingrained need for order. Sheridan provides us with a uniquely disturbing take on the future of mankind, dismissing the groaning zombies and blazing asteroids of yore. Instead he shows us that, in fact, we are our own worst enemy.
Hope Light and Nowhere – in association with Omnibus Arts Clapham
Written by Andrew Sheridan
Directed by Suba Das