Tristan Bates Theatre, London
Seen on February 23rd, 2018
Reviewed by Jade Prince
(DISCLAIMER – Brutal honesty throughout!)
Well, I’m speechless. And not in the usual way.
Theatre is meant to evoke feelings and this did for me but something is telling me annoyance and a teeny tiny bit of anger wasn’t what the writer was going for.
I’m not too sure where to start. It is probably best to attempt to explain the concept of the play. It was
a little all over the place. The main story was meant to be about acceptance and understanding by friends and family. Its a philosophical play looking at moral dilemmas and what happens when we are looking them straight in the eye. Antonio (Jack Gordon) unintentionally discovers his fate but needs to rapidly find a way to disclose such information to his family. The only issue being the bold characters in his family and unfolding events also occurring. Some secrets just have to be told.
That is probably my best shot at trying to explain it. I don’t feel that any of the main aspects of the ‘synopsis’ were actually reached. The secrets alluded in the title were never actually revealed in whole. And although part of the secret was revealed, it was done against Antonio’s will. Reading through the main synopsis on the Tristan Bates’ website I chuckled more than once. “Relationships under scrutiny” but all the established relationships seemed to be falling apart. Not one relationship seemed healthy or achievable. There was no solid relationship to put under scrutiny. Another section read “Antonio has to make up his mind rapidly” he never actually made up his mind. People were continuously telling him what he should do and then Simon (Ben Warwick) went a head and told Monika (Triana Terry) anyway about his diagnosis! What a great doctor! Patient confidentiality!
The story took place during Antonio’s birthday and oh my! It must have been the worst party in the history of parties and in complete honesty, possibly the worst 90 minutes of my theatre life! (I warned I’d be brutal) There have only been four shows out of my 150-odd in the past two years that I have actually contemplated walking out of. Show Boat, Young Frankenstein, Promises, promises (which I did actually leave during the interval) and unfortunately, this one. The only thing really stopping me was the fact I was wedged against a wall with a full row beside me and no interval.
From the onset none of the characters listened to each other and neither did I really. I mean, I did listen. Enough to write this. It just became an argument that went round and round which slowly had more characters joining the mix.
The acting was rather bad. Looking at the programme it looks like a few of the cast have had a very heavy weighted television and film career as a pose to stage. I feel this might have been a downfall.
It was so frustrating how the majority of the characters spoke over each other meaning many of the lines were very rarely finished. It made it all feel so rushed and not rehearsed. Actually a lot of the potential humorous lines where missed due to this. People jumping in here, there and everywhere. The whole feel of the show was very mismatched. This included the plot which did not seem to follow anything really. Even the time period was questionable. Nothing pin pointed it on stage. The set was saying 21st century chic with the vintage pieces. Whilst one costume screamed the 60s. None of the costumes seemed in keeping with each other or even matched one decade.
A key point of theatre for me is relating to it. Watching something that is realistic. None of this was realistic. The party was but as soon as you delved further into the story and the morality/impact on relationships was mixed in, it all seemed so far fetched. (SPOILER ALERT) In what situation would you find out you have cancer by over hearing a conversation between a friend/your doctor and sister and then so calmly approach that ‘friend’. Firstly, why would your personal doctor be your friend? That doesn’t happen very often in real life, virtually never when dealing with terminal illnesses. And then the big green light came in representing the shock of the cancer. Cliché!
We then somehow managed to jump into a seance mid-show? Monika just blurted out ‘Let’s have a seance!’ WHAT?! At no point leading up to this was there any inkling of the interest in the paranormal. The funniest part did occur during this scene but how we got there still baffles me!
There were then freeze frames thrown in everywhere! There are only so many freeze frames you can tolerate especially when some of the cast feel that they are exempt from them. A freeze frame means you freeze. Not continue moving and sighing which was rather distracting.
The script was poncy. I completely understand that philosophy was the main part and that the writer specialises in philosophy which accounts for all the philosophical terms and views but the language was just unneeded. Extravagant words thrown in for the sake of it. I can accept a few here and there with purpose but full sentences, not so much.
Overall, this play was incredibly bizarre! Far too much happening at one. Many of the characters seemed pointless.
There are two more showings left of this if you feel the urge to see it but I would definitely advise you spend your money on something else. Information on the show and tickets can be found here https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/screaming-secrets and it closes today, February 24th.