Abigail Bryant reviews Landmines at OvalHouse
In today’s political climate, it is difficult to view a play such as Landmines completely objectively, and Phil Davies’ new play provokes and stimulates ideas and emotions that are the forefront of both the media and personal mind-sets. The BRIT Theatre Company have produced a piece which stretches the boundaries of fact and fiction, art and reality, but although it has a promising premise at its core, the breadth and complexity of its message unfortunately prove too vast for the script and execution on stage. Set against a scarily decipherable dystopia where far right ideology thrives and anti-immigration rhetoric is rife, our protagonist Vida (played brilliantly by Imogen Fuller) struggles to comprehend and confront the injustices in the world, while spiralling into a chaos and hypocrisy of her own.
The play begins in an intriguing fashion, with the shadow of a character lurking on stage as the audience take their seats, and contemporary footage of violence and political headlines splayed across the stage on a makeshift screen. It’s a real shame that this screen isn’t utilised more throughout the show, as it brings an engaging element to what is otherwise a dialogue heavy and spaciously frantic show. With a cast of thirteen, obvious individual talent has little space to shine, and the narrative is difficult to track at times due to lack of character development and multiple personalities embodied by the same person. Despite this, Landmines is by no means 80 minutes of chaos, and there are moments of pure tension, intelligent exploration and fierce confrontation of today’s world through a fictional lens, set against the backdrop of a murder strikingly similar to that of Jo Cox.
Throughout the play the script provokes consistent physical reaction from viewers, from hysterics to horror to disbelief. This is credit to unapologetic writing which thrusts against the boundaries of political correctness and the tensions between public and private discourse. No matter your political outlook, Landmines is relevant for anybody and everybody living in the United Kingdom at such a pivotal and convoluted moment as now. Its premise centres on mediated violence, and if it had committed to less themes it may have drawn more tangible conclusions than an ultimate muddle of unanswerable questions. Nonetheless, Landmines comprises of a very talented group of young actors, skilful direction and colourful writing that deserves to be heard.
Landmines runs at the Ovalhouse until Saturday 24th June.