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EFR - Reviews of Generation Zero

Generation Zero

Wed 17th – Mon 29th August 2016

reviews

Ryan Bradley

at 08:48 on 22nd Aug 2016

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‘Generation Zero’ is rarely self-righteous or moralistic. Engaging with arguments about climate change and energy renewal, it avoids behaving like a public service announcement. Save for a single monologue about “monstrous machines”, Becky Owen-Fisher’s impressive play presents the topic as secondary thread, focusing more overtly on the dynamic between ‘He’ (Jordan Turk) and ‘She’ (Francesca Dolan). The bond between both characters is believable, realistic and heart-breaking.

Jordan Turk’s acting is consistently exceptional. His delivery is effortless and natural. Whilst Franjera Dolan often equals her co-star’s performance, she has less compelling moments too. However, these rarely appears to be the fault of the actress herself. Her nameless character is tasked with delivering most of the ‘artistic’ dialogue. ‘Generation Zero’ advertises itself as a piece which uses poetic language. The script often fails to live up to this promise, choosing a fragmented, consciously lyrical style which quickly becomes grating. At times, the language is visceral and fiery, mirroring the intensity of our central couple’s attachment. As they fall in love, both parties display a vulnerable, anxious energy which is mirrored in the narration. At other times, rambling descriptions serve as a calculated approximations of poetry. They possess a mushy, juvenile quality, lingering on sensory detail in a slightly mawkish manner. We are once informed that “Flames flick in the fireplace, coating the room with a friendly glow”.

In moderation, Owen-Fisher’s commentary is perfectly acceptable. It can be enjoyable. However, it is best enjoyed responsibly, being overdone and formulaic on several occasions. In one scene, crumbling custard creams and drowning corn-flakes operate as a symbol for the melting ice caps. The idea, played with sober conviction, is clever and mawkish at the same time, reflecting the play as a whole.

The play’s rehearsal script is being sold at the venue. After obtaining it, one will likely conclude that the dialogue works better on the page. The spoken stream of conscious can be more bizarre. Tom Fox’s direction does well with these imperfections, the use of lighting immediately differentiating between ‘past’ and ‘present’ scenes. His choreography also employs a sombre physicality which matches the accompanying words.

Despite some issues, the show does succeed in many ways, reworking the real life deception of activists like Lisa Jones into a touching piece of theatre. Knowledge of Jones’ situation may be necessary to fully grasp the play’s plot, but everything is still moving and tragic without it.

Although occasionally flawed, ‘Generation Zero’ is a mostly successful depiction of a romantic relationship which is warm and harrowing.

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Hannah Congdon

at 10:33 on 22nd Aug 2016

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Director Tom Fox’s take on Becky Owen-Fischer’s script ‘Generation Zero’ is a dynamic and visceral production. With a cast of just two, consisting of He (Jordan Tuck) and She (Francesca Dolan), there is a challenge set for the director to create variation across the hour-long show, but it is a challenge that Fox approaches with real ambition.

Refusing to follow the standard interaction of one character talking to another, the dialogue of the play takes the form of texts, emails, and monologues, to name just a few. It is the physical enactment of technological communication that is most remarkable to watch; the awkwardness and frequent inadequacy of text conversations becomes all the more apparent when watching two people standing side by side cringe and shudder as they say aloud the things they write.

Highly effective lighting differentiates actual conversation from texts and internal monologues, whilst the small studio space is fully exploited thanks to the clever and unlikely combination of strip lights and bed sheets. White strip lights line the outside of the flat stage, giving a soft, warm glow for the more intimate scenes, before transforming the space into a stark and uncomfortable setting when the sheets are thrown off midway through the play.

We jump in time from the early blossoming of the couple’s romance as they connect over a mutual love for Enid Blyton stories, to the fracturing of their relationship under the pressure of environmental activism. It is here where we start to encounter problems; the love story is endearing and touching, if a little formulaic, but the narrative moves rather abruptly into a sobering tale of government corruption and environmental abuse. A play that was quite successfully tackling human relationships, commendably without overt concern for plot momentum, suddenly resorts to a grand and somewhat unconvincing narrative about wide scale and brutal governmental oppression. A more subtle approach might have been to simply detail the lovers’ splintering relationship as it dawns on them that their social and moral values are at odds with each other.

Tuck and Dolan are a convincing duo, though a little weighed down by the sometimes try-hard poeticism of the internal monologues (at one point about 30 seconds are devoted to the description of an egg white), and they would have been more than capable of handling a less sensationalist conclusion of the plot. Still, a sensitive and inventive performance that is well-worth watching.

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