ComedyReviewSouth West

Blavatsky’s Tower – Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

Writer: Moira Buffini
Director: Peter Scott
Reviewer: Jacqui Onions

3 Crate has chosen a disturbing, intense and, at times, darkly comedic play in Moira Buffini’s Blavatsky’s Tower. The subject matter may not be to everyone’s taste but there is something strangely fascinating about the story of a family that have chosen never to leave their penthouse apartment in the tower block that their father designed. The script paints a vivid picture of the high-rise flats synonymous with the architecture of the 1950s and 60s and an unconventional life for the Blavatskys at the top.

As we enter the auditorium, the stage area is lit with an eerie red pattern, which creates a sense of intrigue and anticipation – at least it would if there was a soundscape to match – but, it transpires, this has no real relation to the rest of the play. The audience is greeted by a random soundtrack of unrelated songs that are restarted and played again during the interval and at the end, feeling hugely out-of-place. Since one of the characters is a musician, a soundtrack in keeping with the music within the play would do a lot more to build and hold the atmosphere.

Emma MacNab gives a reasonable performance as the eldest Blavatsky sibling, Audrey, but there are moments that do not quite ring true and her over-gesticulating can be distracting. The rest of the Blavatsky family, played by Tom Hurley (the brother, Roland), Hannah Lloyd (youngest sister, Ingrid) and Tony Leader (Hector, the father) are portrayed in a believable and absorbing way, no matter how surreal events becoming. Dean Rehman, as the doctor that happens upon this unusual family, gives a subtle and understated performance that drip feeds his character to the audience – slowly revealing more about Doctor Tim Dunn, his personality and motivations, as his performance builds, and finally leaving the audience wanting to know more.

There are some truly great moments in this production from directorPeter Scott. The set has to be simple as that is part of the story and made very clear in the script, but the way in which this bare minimum is used is hugely effective and adds to the engaging performances from the cast. This is a production that you will remember.

Runs until 28 May 2016 | Image: Contributed


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