It's opening night at the Tap Gallery for production company, Cathode Ray Tube's, new play, "The Great Lie of the Western World" and fresh from a rice paper roll or two at Miss Chu's, I'm ready for some theatre.
Having heard amazing reviews for their last production, Thirty Three, I am eager and curious as to what I will experience in this intimate inner city theatre space.
The clock strikes eight and we're asked to take our seats. The audience, which has culminated in the 'foyer/bar', are lead down a wooden corridor where canvas paintings line the way and a light switch with 'Do Not Touch' written above it, marks the exit. We come out at a small box like room with about eighty or so seats in it (this is purely a guess-timation as I am not literate in OCD) and we each find our seats for the next two hours (not including a ten minute interval).
The lights dim and the action begins. I don't want to say too much about the play from here on in, as I think it's one of those pieces that will be more thoroughly enjoyed and beneficial to the viewer, the less you know about it.
I sat there, in the front row of this small theatre space, as the realist dialogue went back and forth between the characters, at times waxing lyrical, often philosophical and occasionally didactic (whether this aids the production or is detrimental to it is up to the individual).
I found myself engaged in the action before me, constantly trying to work out where the story was going, doing my best to be a 'dime store detective' in an independent theatre; listening to the clues, looking for hints and putting the pieces of the puzzle together to determine what, exactly, it was.
The writing was clever, realistic and unlike so many plays, (and it's the intimate setting that allows it to do so) the action was not heightened, but rather you sat behind the fourth wall as though you were a fly on the wall, privy to the events that took place behind closed doors, the deconstruction of relationships and the question of domestic bliss. If these walls could talk, they'd tell us to stop hammering picture hooks into them, because it "hurts like a bitch."
The performances were solid, with Kate Skinner as a stand out. Booth was engaging, likeable and at the same time had an uneasy presence, all the while you didn't quite know why. The production design was simple and elegant and the references to local monuments, hotels and streets drew you in even further with their clever hints of familiarity. Jessica Donoghue was highly believable and Alistair Powling, was highly likeable and very recognisable in his role.
At times the music coming from the speakers drowned out some dialogue and the duel instances of two different conversations taking place simultaneously, while an interesting thing to see, it did make it hard, firstly to decide on which conversation was actually vital to the story and secondly, once you've picked the general discussion from the narrative forwarding exchange, it's hard to zero in exactly on what is being said, with the realist banter cause for distraction.
Overall, I found "The Great Lie of the Western World" engaging, thought provoking and thoroughly interesting. My friend and I sat in the theatre for a good five minutes after the rest of the audience had dissipated, as we digested what had just taken place until we were kicked out. Not that I'm complaining about our ejection, that was fine, as we moved to a place of much wine and cheese. So it's hard to argue with that.