Abigail Bryant reviews Tiny Dynamite at Old Red Lion Theatre
Bringing Abi Morgan’s Tiny Dynamite to the stage for the first time in 15 years, Time Productions have injected an ethereal and immersive ambiance to a beautifully complex play that deals with chance, regret, grief and friendship among other universally human themes. The intimate setting of the Old Red Lion Theatre is perfect for this production, and carefully developed tension saturates the room as the intricate narrative plays out.
Anthony AKA ‘Runt Boy’, played with resounding conviction by Niall Bishop was struck by lightning as a young boy, and while self-described as a ‘miracle’, the event has a profound impact on his future. Lucien AKA ‘Shy Girl’ (played by Eva-Jane Willis), his childhood friend who happened to be present for said miracle, takes him on an annual holiday for physical and emotional nurture, and it’s on this premise that the drama unfolds. During the trip they encounter Madeleine (played by Tanya Fear), a magnetic force that compels Anthony and Lucien to confront their troubled and curiously ominous past. Morgan’s writing scatters loose ends throughout the narrative, and the audience definitely has some work to do – but this only results in a more evocative and cathartic viewing experience.
David Loumgair’s directorial decision to change Lucien’s gender from that of the original script was an admirable move, and gives the production a refreshing and nuanced dimension that two male leads perhaps wouldn’t offer. All three actors shine in their roles, and despite a long running-time, the action is compelling and engaging down to their convincing performances and undeniable chemistry as a trio. Eva-Jane Willis and Niall Bishop are particularly impressive, and execute their physically and emotionally demanding roles with elegant authority. The ultimate star of the how, however, is Anna Reid’s innovative stage design, which utilises sound and aesthetics alike to immerse us into the setting. Alongside Zoe Spurr’s lighting that is sophisticated in its simplicity, an unassuming wooden set is surrounded by water features that help to tell the story. Throughout the play, the character’s interaction with water enables the lengthy and at times abstract script to maintain a sense of fluidity and structure.
Tiny dynamite is by no means an easy or straight-forward watch, but powerful performances and a stylish execution make this an exciting and highly interesting piece of theatre.
Showing at The Old Red Lion, Islington until Saturday 3rd February 2018