- Gareth K Vile
- 8 August 2018
Matters of life and death and beyond
Audacious in its ambition, Testament slips between poetic and physical evocations of mental or metaphysical states, places the human at the centre of a battle between Jesus and the devil, reflects on grief, guilt and medical ethics before concluding with a meditation on the possibility of overcoming disappointment. Shifting between naturalism and melodramatic declamations, Testament is bursting with ideas, but its hour struggles to contain everything.
Like the experiences of protagonist Max, the structure is fragmented and disorientating: the scenes set in his subconscious are fluid, allusive and profound, but the interludes in the real world of doctors, guilty brothers and medical procedure are laboured by comparison. The cast are enthusiastic and dynamic, bringing a lively intensity to both happy memories and painful recollections.
The powerful moments – the reconstruction of a fatal car-crash, Jesus' bedside chat with Max, the devil manifesting as a toilet attendant tempting with deodorant and lollipop – are followed by mundane procedural, making sure that every flight of fancy is grounded.
Uneven yet promising, the script shifts mood frequently and sometimes clumsily. The ambition of the company is not yet matched by an effective dramaturgical execution, yet the seriousness of the themes suggest that Chalk Line are chasing a thought-provoking, intelligent and passionate ideal.
ZOO Charteris, until 27 Aug, 4.45pm, £10 (£8).