DramaReviewSouth West

Tremor – The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

Written by: Brad Birch

Director: David Mercatali

Reviewer: Beth Steer

The latest play by Brad Birch, a recipient of the Harold Pinter Commission, Tremor has the potential to promise an evening of tense, nail-biting theatre.

The short, one-act play charts the reunion of two individuals, Sophie (Lisa Diveney) and Tom (Paul Rattray), as they come together again, four years after their lives and relationship, were torn apart by a catastrophe. It focuses on the ‘now’, analysing how the past intersects with and disrupts, the present, looking closely at the aftershocks of tragedy, and how individuals spin in different directions in its wake.

As a concept, Tremor has the potential be a divisive, anxiety-ridden performance, exploring two vastly different personalities that present strongly opposing ideologies about politics, religion, resilience, and justice. But, in this case, the acting somewhat lets it down. 

While both Diveney and Rattray grow into their characters as the play progresses, their dialogue is stilted, and their monologues are largely contrived. The halting delivery makes it difficult to become wholly absorbed in the narrative and detracts from the atmosphere that they’re trying to create. They circle each other – physically and verbally – but it doesn’t fit naturally, and the chemistry between them – while intentionally awkward – doesn’t ring true. Instead of the revelations that their conversation unveils being powerful, they come across as cliched. It’s difficult to remain involved and engaged and, as a result, the play’s crescendo is anti-climactic.

The staging – a circle, broken in two places, with only two toddler’s toys as props – is clever and representative, but the acting and the content of the play don’t quite have enough weight to make it dynamic and carry it off.

Tremor has potential, and it’s not unenjoyable. But, this performance smacks of cliché, and its lack of dynamism is disappointing.

Reviewed on 17 April 2018 | Image: Mark Douet

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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