The Space, London – until 12 October 2019
Guest reviewer: Heather Chalkley
An off the wall take on the impact of present day politics, The Open has a definite Orwell feel to it. Florence Bell’s dark humour has to be a bit out there to ‘trump’ this unprecedented period of our history. You can be forgiven for feeling a slight sense of fear that the Utopian state created by the rich and powerful, at the expense of the rest of the population, is not that far from reality, particularly in the minds of some of our present day world leaders. Although I think even the most brainwashed westerner might bulk at The GBGC – Great British Golf Course!
The characters of each player are familiar in our every day lives: the laid-back dreamer; the conformist; the privileged and the activist. This is an interesting exercise putting them under the microscope in this extreme situation. I think most of us found a little bit of ourselves in their characters somewhere.
Jana (Heidi Niemi) is someone you want to believe in. You hope that you have her strength and foresight in this dystopian state. Patrick (Tom Blake) is the nature boy that believes in love and lives in a dream world. Bell has sensitively written him with a realistically broken mental well-being, commentating on one of today’s big issues – it’s not going away.
Arthur (Priyank Morjaria) is the conformist that so wants to believe in this new land of ‘live, work, thrive’, along with the loyalty scheme that looks after all their wages. It is not until he has to inflict real pain and treat people as prisoners, that Arthur allows himself to admit it has become a dystopia. Bella (Emma Austin) reminds me of an 80s yuppie, with all guff and no substance. She portrays the belief in her right to have anything she wants and how dangerous that is, especially when given power and authority.
The creatives do a good job in creating the atmosphere, using artificial grass, spot lighting and a good sound track. The only weak point for me is the detention centre electrical power source being under the table – it feels like the writer must have gone for a cup of tea at that point. I am sure the creatives can do better.
On the whole this play certainly makes you think, particularly when it is a little too near reality for comfort.