UNREACHABLE

31 July 2016 Royal Court Theatre, London


Well damn son, it's just short of three weeks since my last post. Apologies! But I wasn't going to post content that I didn't feel wholeheartedly about. Anyway, I return with my thoughts on a play I saw yesterday - Unreachable, at The Royal Court Theatre. Of the theatres I've been to, this will always be one of my favourites. It just feels so intimate, and that's what I want to feel when I see a play - the connection between the cast and the audience. The reason me and my friend Alice wanted to mainly go, is because of Matt Smith, who you probably know best as the Eleventh Doctor in...Doctor Who. Matt was my Doctor and always will be. So it was exciting to finally see him on stage, as I missed him in American Psycho.

Unreachable is about Maxim (Matt Smith), a director who won the Palme d'Or award at Cannes, and it focuses on his latest project which has been something he's been in the process of writing for 10 years...and it's really testing him. He feels he needs to live up to his previous work, but also due to the fact that he is battling to find that moment of perfect light. As he put it, that moment where there is melody that is your life, that just comes from nowhere. And as quick as it arrives, it disappears. It's that moment that is impossible to describe, that it can only be seen and although he can quantify it to an extent with music...he doesn't know what this light looks like, until it actually happens.

It opens with a young actress auditioning for one of the main roles of the project. Tamara Lawrence plays the actress, Natasha, and within moments, she pulls you in, telling a tale of a terrifying world, and how she ends her child's life because she didn't want him to die at the hands of the people that have got her and other women imprisoned. It must be trippy to be an actress, playing an actress who has to jump in and out of character, whilst still being in character. I love how the audience was so silent during her scene that you could hear a pin drop. That the emotion was pulling you in and that you wanted to help the character in which she was auditioning for. That you wanted to comfort her. And then just like that? You are back to reality, and it becomes more light hearted when she asks where the loo is.

There were so many laughs within the play, which is honestly something I wasn't expecting. One moment that made me cry with laughter was the sex scene. Anastacia (Amanda Drew) and director of photography, Carl (Richard Pyros) are seeing each other - Carl clearly shows his feelings more openly, in comparison to Anastacia. Anyway, filming isn't going well, and Anastasia wants to 'relax'. The staging is bare throughout the play, and they have various boxes that are used to transport lighting and other equipment. And some of these are used in the sex scene. They both have their respective boxes where they're basically doing it fully clothed. It was just so hilarious and a different way to do a scene like that? So props (no pun intended) to the Anthony Neilson, the writer/director, and set designer, Chloe Lamford.

Another thing I loved was the casting of a deaf actress, Genevieve Barr, and the fact she was just as central to the plot as the other characters. The only point made about the fact she is deaf was when she's first introduced, and when Carl goes to talk to her, but it doesn't go exactly to plan.

We need to take a moment to appreciate Jonjo O'Neil as Ivan, aka 'The Brute'. Holy moly. I haven't laughed so much at the introduction of a character. If you've seen Jason Statham's character in Spy, and his tales? Ivan is the acting equivalent of this. Some of the tales he told included the time he was in...Bosnia (I think) and he was ever so hungry, along with many others, and animals. A stray dog would keep coming up to him, so one day, he finally fed it...his snot. Then felt bad afterwards. Some of the things he said were just so outrageous, hilarious and disgusting, that you couldn't help but laugh.

There were moments where the audience were laughing so much, that it caused the actors to break character, which I kind of loved. Particularly when Ivan and Maxim were left alone after everyone (somewhat) welcomed Ivan to the set, and I can't even remember what it was that was funny in the first place? I think they were stood really close to one another and just started chuckling, which set the audience off, and then it set them off, and they carried on, but it was just nice to be in that moment of just, everyone laughing? It made the experience more fun. Others may disagree and want to see actors ACT, but I like seeing that whilst they are on stage, they respond to the audience. There isn't a wall between the two.

Another moment was where The Brute became...The Moth. He and Eva (Genevieve Barr) were talking, and she basically got him to show a different side to himself. Ivan started to tell a tale about how he hated going with his father to the allotments, as he could hear the vegetables scream when his dad got them out of the ground. That set the audience off again, Eva said that wasn't the case, and he told her that he wished his father didn't spend so much time at the allotments, but suppose the reason he did was because it meant-a-lott to him. Everyone was in stitches again! And then, to top it off, he told Eva another story about why he should be called The Moth, instead of The Brute (the light he hit his head on many years ago was called The Brute, but he saw himself as a moth because he hit himself on a light, just like they do). So, he went behind a big reflective stand, with his arms stuck in some other reflectors - you could see his silhouette, and he kept running up to the big reflector, bashing into it like a month. As someone who loves their visuals and how lighting plays a part in things...this amused me more than it probably should have.

I have come away from this, with a huge crush on Amanda Drew. And her wardrobe in the show is so on point...if I was to ever dress smart, her style would be the one. Long coats, high waisted wide leg trousers with the loveliest shirts. I was trying to place where I'd seen her before - turns out it was as Cate Gillespie in Broadchurch! 

The ending was so visually stunning that I think that's what the pearly gates would look like, for me. There was light so delicate and beautiful just dancing over the stage and the audience, it actually made me a bit emotional? Why is it you can have the death of a character you grow to love over a short amount of time in a show that makes you upset, yet the thing to get this cold hearted cow emotional is the lighting and staging in the final scene? It just had you so immersed in it! Being the third row, we happened to get the brunt of where the confetti was falling. It went everywhere. But it was a gorgeous visual so that's cool.



Oh, and this definitely is the first time I've ever seen a fox on stage? As in an actual, real life fox. Me and Alice thought we were seeing things at first? Seriously, we were pondering over it for an hour or so after! But then I realised. It fit in the play, sort of bringing us back to the real world, even though we're experiencing what Maxim is, in this moment of joy?

I don't know if Maxim was supposed to be anxious or have anxiety in some shape or form, but if so...I love how Matt played Maxim - or at least the fragility we saw. Moments where he'd slightly fiddle with something, or just in his movements. That's the thing I love about going to the theatre, and being near to the front. You get to see microexpressions and things that you wouldn't otherwise see, sat further back.

To be truthful, I didn't really look at reviews or anything regarding the play. I knew what it was about, but that's it. I wanted to be surprised by the play, and I was. Came out afterwards, pleased with what I saw and had a great time. It's definitely one of the more enjoyable theatre experiences I've had, and will go and see more of Anthony Neilson's work.

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