Writer: Alan Harris
Director: Sita Calvert-Ennals
Reviewer: Chris Oldham
Confession, apparently, is good for the soul. But what exactly constitutes a terrible thing? It’s a question that feels like it should be posed at the very beginning of Invisible Ink’sThe Terrible Things I’ve Done. Instead, it comes right atthe end.
Performers Lynn Hunter, Hannah McPake, and Francois Pandolfo begin perched on top of a compact wooden structure, like three Shakespearean narrators, talking over each other and setting the scene for what’s to come. Names have been changed, but the stories are true – real, personal anecdotes collected over a period of two years from anyone who was willing to share.
From there they launch into a series of sharp, often briefre-enactments and monologues, unpacking the blocks of Rebecca Wood’s craftily constructed stage, complete with hidden drawers, cupboards, and a lightbox, until the stage floor resembles something of a warped version ofPlay Schoolwhere all the presenters have fallen victim to their own crushing shame.
There’s something undeniably enticing about hearing just how awful people can be. The more voyeuristic, then, will be disappointed by the lack of real dirt on display. Writer Alan Harris can only work with the material he’s amassed, and it’s perhaps unsurprising that people aren’t inclined to offer up the absolute worst of themselves, anonymously or otherwise, but there is a sense that an opportunity has been missedtoexploitsome of society’s darker, and indeed more darkly comic flaws.
At times it feels a little bit like an unfinished workshop, particularly the moments involving copious amounts of cake. And while the three leads all turn in good performances, there are no compelling characters to either root for or, given the nature of the piece, despise. To keep us engaged, Harris weaves inan ongoing narrative involving one woman, Becca, but it’s not as affecting as it should be, and shorter stories – likehow a nine-year-old betrayed his mother for example -deliver something much more emotional.
While lacking in the promise that such a bold concept could have delivered, there’s enoughto keep the audience interested for an hour, though not quite as aghast as the title might suggest.
Runs until 1October 2016 | Image: Contributed