Review: DRINKS *** (Basic Space)

Immersive theatre is continuing to grow in popularity over the last few years: audiences are invited into an expansive world, with a whole host of characters and experiences to be explored. In some cases, these world provide an escape from hum-drum reality into fantasy. DRINKS creates a world not unlike our own, as Three Pegs Productions explores the challenges facing young people in London today. Sharp, short and sweet, you can’t help but raise a glass to them.

Dave and Laura have just bought their first house together, and as their closest friends we are invited to their housewarming! Sure the house is a bit of a fixer upper, but with friends like Laurence it’ll get fixed up in no time. But as the evening progresses, it becomes clear the house isn’t the only thing which needs a bit of TLC…

DRINKS

Basic Space is a festival that celebrates site-sensitive theatre. This house could not be better suited for this play, nor this play better suited for the house. With little set dressing, it feels as if this could be a house for a millennial couple, which is as broken as their own relationship. Not only does it provide the backdrop for the play, it feeds into the witty, sardonic dialogue. Sharp and on point, Sophie Andrea Mitchell‘s honest script exposes the anxieties of young professionals in London.

Our hosts for the night are Madeleine Dunne as the controlling Laura and Ben Lydon as DIY Dave. They are the perfect double act and I would happily be their friend (at least at the start of the night!) Rounding out the cast are Peter Dewhurst as their put-upon friend Laurence and his guest the fiery Anastasia, played by Michelle Payne. Engaging and ready to react to anything, they draw you even further into the story.

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With impressive set dressing and a host of characters, these immersive elements work well at the start. However, the transition from immersive storytelling to traditional narrative is less seamless. The audience’s role suddenly shifts. Before, we were a part of the conversations; now, we are a silent observer and an awkward one at that. Who would barge in on Laura and Lawrence having a private chat? Or stay as tensions start to rise? These are conversations that should be happening behind closed doors. Although in a house with no doors, perhaps this is why…

By the end of the night, the characters depart, friends once more. Thanks to a strong script and engaging actors, DRINKS has a friend in audiences too.

For more information about Three Pegs Productions, visit their website.

 

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