BWW Review: WILDERNESS, Hampstead Theatre
On first impression it all looks good. Lucy Sierra's set dominates the space, covering it with dirty broken walls and littered toys. A metaphor for the disequilibrium happening, it's aided by Matt Haskins' lighting design, which flickers and distorts reality. Dan Balfour's sound evokes paranoia - it all works for Anna Ledwich's vision.
However, the initial wow of all this quickly settles in and you're left wanting more. Smith's script attempts to demand attention, but what it is in fact is a glorified family drama, lacking pace and punch. We've seen it all before; a couple break up and their child gets caught in the middle. Bad things then happen for a while, before a resolution of some sort occurs.
This simple middle-class drama plays well to the Hampstead middle-class audiences, but it's a shame that it doesn't offer anything new to the conversation or connect with the wider community. Even the strong performances from Natalie Klamar and Finlay Robertson - as the battling parents - can't prevent this production from becoming stagnant.
No matter the conviction coming from the two, the characters seem a tad unbelievable, overwritten and undeveloped. Smith's script doesn't make any case of a call to action; it's all a bit strange and begs the overall question, why should we care?
Photo: Robert Day