EFR - Reviews of A Writer's Lot

A Writer's Lot

Fri 2nd – Sat 17th August 2013

reviews

Samuel Graydon

at 02:15 on 14th Aug 2013

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This powerful and psychologically thrilling play presents a trail of fascinating confusion from start to finish. Exploring, via Josh King’s clever and witty script, the thin line between reality and fiction, the play places the audience member into the world of morbidly obsessive playwright James William.

William is played excellently by Kristian Wightwick. In fact, the acting in this play is of a very high standard. The actors bring a vivid life to characters that would perhaps be a little more flat, considering the play is but forty minutes in length, if not played with such confidence and ability. They demonstrate how both comic timing and intense emotion can nestle side by side comfortably and impressively. Alice Evans and Jamie Parker, who play the actors of William’s play, beautifully switch, for example, from a truly tragic opening, to the light-hearted and humorous disgruntlement of two egoistic thespians, with great assurance. The dark comedy of this really rather bloody play is both funny and well balanced against the heavier and more philosophical elements the audience encounters.

While the meta-narrative of a play within a play is a much-used theatrical device, ‘A Writer’s Lot’ remains almost entirely exempt from the usual happenings of such a narrative. There is, though, just something almost too aware that shows itself occasionally during the performance, due to the disconcerting mingling of William’s life, the play he is writing, and the inner workings of his mind. On the whole, however, the play manages to use its intelligence to its advantage creating a really gripping and thought provoking tale. It may tread the line of becoming too clever for its own good, but it never succumbs to crossing it.

It is a play with much intrigue (it leaves as many questions as it can unanswered) and yet, amongst this subtlety, there are many moments that go off with a dramatic bang (both literally and otherwise). It is full of paradoxes, and deliberate confusion, yet somehow retains a likable and interesting plot line. This is a play that will entertain as much as it bewilders, and that is a rare feat.

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Victoria Ibbett

at 10:36 on 14th Aug 2013

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A semi-clad dead woman is draped across a blood-bespattered chaise-lounge. A man holding a gun looks on in abject horror. This opening scene is the creation of an author, William, whose plays always seem to end in “redemption”: aka, death. But something isn’t right; the actors want a happy ending, the author’s girlfriend wants him to see a psychologist, and the author’s fictional world seems about to collide dramatically with his reality. 'A Writer’s Lot' cleverly deconstructs the binary of fiction and reality and achieves all that one could hope from a forty minute ‘dark comedy’ that promises and delivers both gasps and laughs.

Inwothewings theatre company have produced an excellent play that boasts a splendid script, formidable acting talent and direction and staging that suggests a genuine aesthetic sensibility. From the elegantly simple staging, to the refined and meticulous costuming, someone on the production team certainly has an artist’s eye and is using it to powerful effect.

If the furnishings are refined, this is nothing to the polish of the cast members. 'A Writer’s Lot' features fantastic acting talent. Particular mention is owed to Kristian Wightwick in the lead role as William. Wightwick is inspired and commanding; scared and off-balance; furious and violent. Forty minutes of that? But somehow he managed it with aplomb. William’s “hired help”, an actress with her own ideas of how the story should run, is played with stage-stealing vivacity by Alice Evans. But this stops short of unbalancing the play by the simple fact that it is precisely her dominance and threat to the play-within-a-play’s author, William, that is a key tenet of the author’s neuroses.

The crux of the comedy resides in the slippage between reality and fiction. But this is also the crux of the ‘dark’ side of the ‘comedy’. Literary jokes abound, teasing out the differences between authors and “other people”. But as William’s world spins increasingly out of control and his fictional urges begin to be matched by his real urges, it is these comedic touches that prove the spice of the play’s macabre treatment of the literary imagination.

It is the psychologist that teases out the finer points of this theme. Played engagingly by Felix Clutson, he teeters on the edge of fiction himself; he is a parody of an old-school Freudian shrink whose costume and tone strike just the right note to signal Quack. His ambiguous insistence that this is “all in your head” underlies the narrative; yet this possibility is not sufficiently explored, let alone concluded by the end of the play.

'A Writer’s Lot' is undoubtedly a must-see, but prepare to be left hanging.

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