BWW Review: THE CLINIC, Southwark Playhouse
Southwark Playhouse Young Company premieres Papatango award-winning playwright James Rushbrooke's new play, The Clinic.
Directed by Ellen Havard, the show presents a world where technology is so far advanced that there's a demand for courses on social interaction, artificial confidence is available to be ingested in the form of a pill, and synthetic lovers are used to spice up relationships.
The official synopsis is a bit misleading as it focuses the attention of the piece on the launch of the Bliss Chip, "nanotechnology providing orgasms without the need for physical stimulation", and the inevitable consequences of its being hacked but the strength of Rushbrooke's play is everything that surrounds it.
The playwright offers a universe indirectly ruled by its technology, which can certainly improve one's life but also be their downfall. He suggests reflections on different kinds of relationships but has the tendency to cut them short, reducing the repercussions of the shown issues and simplifying the outcomes.
The thrust stage designed by Alice Rose Stephenson features a white see-through curtain that simulates those of hospital beds and where projections turn it into a technological nightmare. Havard's direction is dynamic and takes full advantage of the space but sightly miscalculates the advantages of its shape: with the videos playing only on the shorter ends, audiences seated on the longer sides might have had a lesser experience.
The theatre's Young Company features actors of ages between 14 and 25 who've had no professional training but this specific production opted for upping the starting age to 19, probably given the nature of the material. The members develop their performances in weekly workshops that are free to attend and lead to a professional performance, thus there might be dramatic differences in the results.
The 16-strong cast are therefore not always as cohesive as one wishes but display great potential in a handful of individuals, who take the lead and deliver meticulous performances. Among others, Lakshya Sharma, Jacob Kat, and Rosie Dawson reveal promising skills, handling the text with deft hands and monopolising the scene.
Southwark Playhouse does a commendable job with the program, which is a great showcase for unrepresented talent and opens the door of the theatre to the local community.