Three plays in two days

I enjoy being part of the National Theatre’s Young Patron scheme as there are regular emails to alert me to events that I might miss otherwise out of ignorance. I was really pleased to attend the second Double Feature in the Paintframe this week and see two very different yet intriguing plays. ‘Nightwatchman’ was a wonderfully paced monologue – the synopsis of both are on – and what kept my interest was how well Stephanie Street paced her dialogue and there was a real build to a climactic moment, the jeux, which was followed by a well-timed pause. Really moving. I thought I could learn a lot from this play. Lots of swearing but somehow it didn’t seem inappropriate – it fitted with the character and her passion. The set was created with sensitively, and the lighting gave the impression you were outside in the nets.

The second play ‘There is a War’ was brilliantly acted and the comedic moments were expertly delivered and timed with precision. The writer captured something of the banality of war and I found myself feeling the same frustrations Anne was feeling with being abandoned and useless amidst the mindless fighting between the blues and the greys. Being a generic war worked well as I think it allowed us to focus in on the bigger issues surrounding conflict rather than get caught up in detail about why two particular groups were fighting. The Paintframe was ideal for this work, and the space was used superbly. As Anne’s search for the hospital seemed to be the central thread of the work it felt natural, for me, that it should end with her arrival there – and so when the play continued past that point I felt a little of an anti-climax but the writer showed that the war even continued with two new groups. I enjoyed the play, albeit laden with rather loud gunshots. Perhaps there were plenty of clichés from other works dealing with war but somehow this worked due to the location.

I did see a third play but it did not leave me with anything worth writing about! It did make me realise that there is something rather inspiring about theatre – there is a risk-taking approach that perhaps is less evident in music. There is also a willingness of the audience to go along with these risks, and even though we did not have the most comfortable seats in the Paintframe it didn’t matter, as the two plays kept my interest throughout with engaging and well paced dialogue that was so clear I didn’t miss a single word. I hope lots more people will see the Double Features before they finish in September.

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