Force Quit

Fri 5th – Wed 17th August 2011


Rachel Lovibond

at 09:39 on 7th Aug 2011



This is SMC Youth Theatre’s second year at the fringe, following their successful production of ‘The Piano Project’ last year. The plot of ‘Force Quit’ - in an Inception-esque way - explores memory and the potential for intrusion and manipulation of the subconscious. The action flows in and out of the memories of Rebecca, played by Jessica Hilton. Little indication is provided as to the placement of events, leaving the audience in a state of confusion, mirroring Rebecca’s own, until the end of the play.

Discernable as a sixth-form college production through the rather contrived use of colour on stage for symbolic effect (all black costumes and set punctuated with striking use of red), the quality of acting was however higher than the quality of the set design. Interesting use was made of the multitude of diaries arranged across the stage floor, reinforcing the intensely intimate experience of memory and heightening the discomfort of having them forcibly examined by outsiders.

The performance was very well directed by Andrew Williams as often the full cast of twelve were on the stage simultaneously and movement appeared tightly choreographed, to the point of becoming almost dance-like at moments. However, the slow motion, sci-fi style manner in which the play explored the concept of memory was rather clichéd and detracted from the otherwise impressive choreography.

Katie Tormay as ‘The Supervisor’ and Ryan Towsend as ‘The Interrogator’ both stood out as the strongest performances of the show. Ryan was particularly impressive and the physical closeness between audience and stage meant that the audience was able to feel the full force of his intimidation and interrogation of Rebecca’s subconscious. However, the skill of many of the actors was a little let down by the plot itself, which lacked coherence and relied heavily on repetition. This, while effectively conveying the acute frustration of trying to recover a memory, became a little tedious to watch but I very much look forward to seeing what else this talented group can perform.


Joe Nicholson

at 09:55 on 7th Aug 2011



The SMC Youth Theatre describes Force Quit as a “stripped down, raw performance”, which is, if anything, an understatement. The production is very minimal, with all of the actors dressed in black, the only colour present being the red books strewn around the stage. The whole performance gives the air of being heavily choreographed, which for the most part works well, if seeming a little overbearing at points. It is suggested to us immediately that Rebecca is in a coma, and we follow the exploration of her perception, her consciousness, and notions of reality.

Devised by the company, the production at times seems confusing, with the representation of thoughts and memories on the stage balanced with a distopic science fiction element not always proving a clear development of the plot of the piece. Nevertheless, the decision of the company to immerse the audience in the action by emerging from around the row of seats on either side of the stage stimulates the spectator to follow the complicated and dreamlike narrative. The company develops a powerful element of mystery in the production, which really starts to grip the audience through the more confusing episodes.

The acting of individuals varied through the company: Jessica Hilton’s Rebecca began quietly but soon gained more of a stage presence as the narrative centred around her. There were commendable performances from Katie Torbay and Ryan Towsend, who played the frighteningly named “Supervisor” and “Interrogator”, showing real promise despite the confusing science fiction episodes in which they appeared. There were, however, a number of slips, both with lines and with the use of some of the props, whilst the American accent of Alix Sampford was lamentable. There was also a number of cringeworthy clichés, beginning with the idea presented that there was something that Rebecca “had to do”, lifted straight from something like The Lovely Bones. Much of the production again seemed painfully close to being self-consciously dramatic, many of the choreographed episodes appearing similar to rehearsal games. Nonetheless, the cast did well to draw the audience in to the exploration of consciousness and, eventually, the underlying mystery in the production, and for the most part the large cast was coordinated well, highlighting the abilities of some clearly talented young actors.


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