The perils of flying the nest
This article is from 2009.
Camden People’s Theatre has a policy of supporting risk-taking productions with an emphasis on the visual (you may remember last year’s intimate, near silent, office cubicle drama Paperweights, which was supported by them). This year director Matt Ball dissects the father/son relationship in a visually stimulating, emotionally affective and charmingly funny curiosity of a play that pushes boundaries in the right way.
The Icarus of myth didn’t heed his father’s advice and the result was a melted-wing, drowned-son disaster. In a cramped training camp / laboratory in London a man has genetically bred a ‘son’ with the aim of making him fly down to Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, securing fame and respect for himself. But while the first Icarus had his youthful arrogance to blame for his demise, these two tragic characters have a complex interdependency working against their best interests.
Played out in a claustrophobic room, crammed with biological specimens and domestic detritus, Sébastien Lawson and Jamie Wood turn in heartbreakingly truthful performances as the struggling father and son. The action is divided between domestic chores, the grand flying plan, Icarus’ training regime – an almost balletic routine that is repeated throughout with changes that chart the changing relationship between the men – and times when the advertised narrative slips, and hints of a darker reality poke through.
The drama becomes less mythological and more psychological as their circumstances become apparent. Blending one interpretation of their relationship into another, the forward momentum comes from shifts in tone and pace. Taking a lot from physical theatre, episodes of silent business, dialogue, monologue and brief snatches of music build an impressionistic whole, at times hurtling with near-hysteria and at others tripping with sadness. The resulting journey is more visceral than cerebral, existing in a space beyond the reach of words.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 25), 3.25pm, £9–£10 (£7.50–£8.50).