Free Fall*** (Pleasance Theatre)

Posted: October 28, 2014 in Theatre

FreeFall_087Vinay Patel sets his play in a soulless wasteland, neither urban nor rural, where transport links scar the landscape and the only signs of humanity are glimpses caught through the windows of passing vehicles. Specifically, this is a high platform on the Dartford Crossing, where Andrea (Molly Roberts) has come to end it all, having decided that she is of more use dead than alive to those close to her. Roland (Maynard Eziashi), a toll booth superintendent, has other ideas; he has spent many shifts watching as distant black dots plunge from on high into the polluted Thames estuary, but, on this occasion, he climbs up to find out more. This is not the first drama to ask the “to be or not to be” question and over-familiarity, particularly in the early stages, is the biggest obstacle in the way of Patel’s play gaining a grip. Once the play settles into a predictable battle of wills between Andrea and Roland to gain the upper hand, it strays into the territory of light comedy, as the banter ranges from old television programmes to brands of supermarket ready meals. This goes on for much too long, but, as it becomes clearer that Roland, in a dead-end job and with a fragmenting family, has problems which mirror Andrea’s, the drama builds to a powerful and distinctive climax.  This production, directed by Bethany Pitts for Polaroid Theatre, is lifted by two exceptionally strong performances, whilst Petra Hjortsberg’s simple stage designs and Ben Jacobs’ atmospheric lighting are effective in suggesting a bleak and hostile environment, in keeping with the writer’s themes.

Performance date: 28 October 2014

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