Harriet Bignell reviews The Marked at Oval House
In an insightful and conscience pricking performance, Theatre Temoin provide a chilling glimpse into the life of homeless Jack, on the streets of London.
In an eerie opening, the characters perform a sequence of movements which move Jack from sinister scenario to frightening encounter and set the scene for a play that unsettles as well as engages.
The physical manifestation of Jack’s childhood daemons on the streets is a frightening concept, let alone the extra mile this play goes with discordant music, unsettling strobe lighting and nightmarish costumes.
Moving seamlessly from the realistic, to puppetry and then into demonic masked apparitions, this three man cast manage to successfully fuse the everyday with the hellish in a disturbingly natural way.
Just when you get used to hallucinatory feel of this play it switches to an everyday encounter between three characters on the street, all vulnerable in their own right.
Jack is an endearing and childlike character who is attracted to the female character for whom he feels a childlike desire to be mothered.
Through allusions to unhappy home life with an alcoholic mother when he was a boy, the audience’s sympathy is further elicited through the introduction of young boy Jack in puppet form.
Aside from the incredible craftsmanship that must have gone into making these puppets, their interactions are confusingly realistic and occasionally tender.
The grotesque mother puppet who is repeatedly drawn to a bottle of wine is repellent in her dealings with Jack until there is a tender moment of embrace, and suddenly the audience feel strangely invested in the dynamic between the two. And all this regardless of the fact that they are puppets…
The combination of realism and the nightmarish qualify this play has makes for an often uncomfortable watch, more uncomfortable still when the audience remember the piece is an abstract reflection of a very real problem.
I defy anyone to leave the theatre and walk past a homeless person in the same way again.
The Marked plays at Oval House until October 22nd.
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