‘Compelling work’: THE DRILL – Battersea Arts Centre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Battersea Arts Centre, London – until 17 February 2018

‘See it. Say it. Sorted.’

Every Londoner knows this slogan from the British Transport Police encouraging us to be vigilant as we go about our days. Be alert, and if you see something suspicious, report it.

Does it really pay to be prepared? It may bring about a sense of security, but being ready for any of a number disasters to strike at any time is exhausting. How does this affect our work, relationships and the rest of our real life?

The cast of The Drill took training courses to learn first aid, how to disarm an attacker and other such responses to modern emergencies. As part of these courses, attendees are required to roleplay as victims to make it seem more real. It’s all fun and games until the course participants’ personal lives are impacted by the intensity of the practice scenarios.

Amarnah Amuludun, Luke Lampard and Ellice Stevens practice the techniques they learnt with a blend of commitment and reluctance familiar to anyone who’s ever had to take one of these courses.

Billy Barrett and Ellice Stevens’ script intersperses these scenes with monologues of the characters’ lives. These are funny, touching and relatable, effectively capturing the balance with which we move through life – whilst on the tube, we’re aware of the people around us but contemplating what to have for dinner.

The use of video introduces other views of disaster preparation and juxtaposes with the personal stories that gradually emerge from the characters. There’s a good balance between the warmly personal and the coldly militaristic, and a brief glimpse at the difficult shift between the two when we are expected to ‘say it’ after ‘seeing it’. This moment’s inner conflict, as poignant as it is, deserves more time.

Breach’s fourth show, whilst keeping their signature blend of documentary, fiction and reenactment, here looks to the hypothetical rather than an event in the past. As rehearsal and real life merge, it asks us to reflect on our own rehearsals, be they a bomb threat or a first date. It’s a compelling work from this young company quickly establishing themselves as one of the country’s leading company of theatremakers.

 

Laura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.
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Laura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.