Writer: Matthew Gabrielli
Director: Karl Barnsley
Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin
The moral of this play is to be very careful where you leave your briefcase. Apart from that, morals are pretty thin on the ground in this tale of institutionalised terror and evil interrogation.Sadly the chief interrogator Fleming (David Garrett) never really loses enough of his good cop mood, even when he is violent, to make him totally believable as the head of a counter terrorism unit. His jokey manner is obviously a ploy to try to make the nastiness eerier. None the less it is a powerful and absorbing performance of a very warped person.
Whereas the subtle changes in his ostensibly bare-knuckled copper underling Sergeant Buchanan (Ethan Holmes) are quite captivating. Although superficially the kind of person bred for legalised thuggery, he has a more complex back story which takes its toll.Initially Buchanan is presented as a dark-swarthy Neanderthal snarling like a pit-bull terrier but his mood mellows and he is even manipulated by their victim Ted. Holmes carries off this change with delightful skill and the audience quite warm to him.
It almost seems a neat form of justice that Ted, a senior suit with the firm that runs the new outsourced justice system, is entangled in its web when he loses his briefcase containing top secret files..Ted’s is a difficult and demanding rôle compellingly performed by Kevin Dewsbury who takes the blows and browbeating well, squeezing many a wince from the audience.
But there ought to be more change after four weeks at the correction unit. The intensive brutality catalogued would render a man of his demeanour more cowed and closer to breaking.Matthew Gabrielli’s narrative reminds us that if someone with a suspicious mind digs deep enough most of us will look iffy. Anyone with a mildly embarrassing past can have a blighted future.
Gabrielli says he felt compelled to write the play after seeing torture strongly defended in a TV debate. Brave of him to admit to watching such a subversive show as “The Big Question”. There are occasional lapses of pace and rhythm but director Karl Barnsley should be applauded for bringing out the best from this very stimulating and pertinent script.
Runs until 24th May.