Writer: Andrew Sherlock
Director: Mark Smith
Reviewer: John Roberts
No reviewer was harmed in the writing of this review. One followed the steps carefully thus making me safe!
Originally deemed too dangerous for the Amnesty International Theatre Award, Sherlock’s frightening psychological thriller is made up of every fear we have of living in a modern society.
Just how much do we give away when we use our credit cards in a shop? What does happen to our emails when we hit send? Is that person we are sat next too just watching the world go by or is something underhand taking place? This is the stuff Owell dreamed of and here in this fascinating and rather uncomfortable production directed by Mark Smith and performed with great aplomb by Nick Birkinshaw we delve into the world of the political interrogator.
Smith makes this an “experience” – the audience are not here to sit back and watch. By using theatrical alienation to exploit our behaviour, to challenge our feelings and subvert our ideologies he takes us from the place of performance to a place of inner-revelation. Just how far are we prepared to go when our morals are a matter of life and death?
Birkinshaw is a slick older gentleman who has a great on stage persona, his dry, sardonic wit teams beautifully with Sherlock’s hard hitting to the point text, he engages the audience and holds them captive with every syllable uttered, he teases us, he pleases us but most of all he challenges us.
Smith’s vision for the piece set in a bleak and stark office kitted out with flashing florescent light tubes and adorned with many a watchful eye never detracts but highlights just how much bureaucracy controls our own decisions.
However the production isn’t faultless – the idea of using a company of local amateur performers within the piece, while noble in its intentions also provides its problems – lines are slipped and a level of not fully being in the moment/persona hangs over proceedings, which is very evident during moments of off-stage torture which doesn’t really hit the mark as one would hope or feel the piece needs.
However this small issue is easily ironed out with a little more rehearsal with the community players. What awaits the audience is a difficult but highly rewarding experience and while the 90minute production may leave you with more questions to ask than are answered, in the case of the evocative issues brought out in The Judgement of Hakim is that really a bad thing?
Reviewed on 29th January 2014