Julia Brookes reviews...
I had no idea what to expect upon arriving at Banham Theatre last week for Look Sharp Theatre’s latest production ‘A Devil Inside’ by David Lindsay-Abaire. After a last-minute decision to stop in and see the play I only knew of one theme before I took my seat: feet. What came after to witness after is possibly the most bizarre and incomprehensible piece of theatre I have ever seen.
The premise of the play is, I guess, rather simple. Mrs Slater (Alisha Walton) reveals to her son Gene (Sam Sheridan) that his father was murdered. But his feet were also cut off. Which Mrs Slater now has kept in a jar. Along with a third mystery foot also found at the site of the murder. Ok, maybe it isn’t so simple…
Mrs Slater asks Gene to avenge his father by retracing the walk his father was taking at the time of the murder. Despite the fact this murder took place fourteen years prior. Confused yet? The play unfolds into chaos from there with a variety of sub plots which keep you guessing until all is simultaneously unravelled and tied up in the chaotic and absurd final scenes.
It was impossible to be bored by this play. Excellent direction by Lewis Fraser and Luke Haywood meant that this complex storyline was remarkably easy to follow and yet you also had no idea what was coming next. Three days later I still don’t quite have a grasp one what I witnessed and in that I think there is an element of genius. It was a piece of theatre that engaged and challenged, with a human-devil-creature even running into the audience at one point making you question the reality of your own mind, let alone those of the characters in the play.
The set of this play was simple but effective. I admired how producer Saffy Wheren constructed a multi functioning backdrop that doubled both as Mrs Slater’s Laundromat and Brad’s (Morgan King) repair shop, a consistent use of colour and style being used for both. This meant no scene changes were needed and the action seamlessly flowed from one scene to the next. The ‘Happy Birthday’ banner which remained on throughout added a sense of time to the play, conveying how quickly these tumultuous events were unfolding.
Stand out performances came from Morgan King who played the bumbling clueless Brad hilariously. He bounced brilliantly off Liv Blythe’s ‘Lily’ who also stood out, contrasting King’s Brad with a beautifully naturalistic agitation and suspect nature which caused you not to trust her for a large duration of the play. Flo Granger’s Caitlin was blissfully amusing and easy to watch. Granger commanded the character with an energy which reminded me profoundly of Lavender Brown from Harry Potter and worked expertly opposite Tom Davy’s disinterested Carl.
All round, this play was well acted and directed. The fact I feel the need to see it again is less of a detriment but more a testament to the delivery of such a bizarre, absurd, and chaotic piece of theatre.
Words: Julia Brookes
Photo credit: James Bosher