- Gareth K Vile
- 27 August 2019
Workmanlike take on love and illusion
With more than a little owed to Sliding Doors and other fantasy movies that explore alternative realities, Shadows is a competent two-hander that explores contemporary relationship anxiety through parallel versions of Nat and James. Madeline Hatt and Harry Boaz give strong performances as the star-crossed lovers, and the stark set allows for some clever use of projection, but Dan Sareen's script struggles to differentiate between the different narratives.
Meeting through work at a bar, Nat and James variously fall in love, have a strained friendship and have an ultimately frustrated romance: while the happiest narrative is located, through the projections, in the world of imagination, the other two struggle to dominate. One version of James is more boorish, less sensitive: Nat is consistently thoughtful and intelligent. It takes some time for the difference between the stories to settle, making the plot as complicated as the structure and the relationship itself.
The episodic structure lends Shadows an even space – as Nat variously becomes more distant and more loving (depending on the reality being presented in each scene) – the comparisons become more pointed. Nat seeks understanding and passion, which James is rarely able to provide, and much of the gap between them appears to involve questions of class and ambition. The themes, of love and hope, and disappointment, are familiar, and Shadows adds little new to the genre, but the lively performances and moments of subtle characterisation that speak to the gap between fantasy and reality lift this above the limited ambitions of the script.
ZOO Playground, run ended.