Theatre N16, London – until 28 January 2017
Andrew Maddock examines the lengths that people will go to in order to protect the ones that they love through the eyes of four very different characters. In He(ART), audiences meet Alice who wants Rhys to sort out his heart condition and Kevin and sister Sam just want to know that their mum is going to be ok. All of them have their eye on the same painting – but just what lengths will they go to to get it?
Directed by Niall Phillips, it is essentially a story about trying to survive and desperation to hold on to their lives and cope with it in vastly different ways – but yet it is only in the last 15 to 20 minutes that the audience really get to understand this.
While the time constraint helps to keep the story as focused as much as possible, it doesn’t allow for much character development and to get to understand the characters and their background. Out of the pairs of people that we are introduced to, it is Kevin and Sam that are willing to risk more for a more clear cut reason and sense of desperation that is more effective than Alice and Rhys’s story, making it a show of stark contrasts that doesn’t quite manage to blend the narratives together as effectively as it could.
But it has to be said that the production is cleverly presented, making full use of the square of white carpet to change the scenes that is sharply choreographed, switching with great ease and style.
It is a shame that the cast aren’t given too much to work with in terms with their characters that it is difficult to really connect with their contrasting situations. But Flora Dawson delivers a beautifully judged performance as Sam, who suffers from mental health problems along with Shayne Noon as Kevin, just out of prison but would risk going back for the sake of getting his mother some medicine.
Although it is billed as a comedy, it feels more of a drama that only really springs to life in the final scenes that throw all four characters together for the first time. If the play was given more room to breathe and was extended slightly then the production would be more engaging than it is at present.
He(ART) is a great idea in theory but overall it feels as though it is just lacking some finesse that would make it truly effective.