Guest reviewer: Jac Bradley
Milly and Jasper are in a relationship. He wants to experiment in the bedroom and makes suggestions of ways to spice things up. Things start to become more complicated when Jasper heads off to Thailand for a month. As a going away gift, Milly gives him a GoPro camera. Strangely enough, the camera never makes it to Thailand…
To say any more about the plot would be to give the game away, and writer Tom Ratcliffe has constructed a slick story laced with clues and time jumps to control the delivery of information. The issues that Gifted tackles are interesting ones. To me, it brings the term ‘abuse’ under a much broader heading; it also looks at the effect of taking the course of justice into your own hands. The questions that the play poses are all relevant ones and Ratcliffe handles them delicately.
The play as a whole, however, falls a tad flat for me. The direction is a little sporadic, there are moments (usually the more stylised moments) that are given care and attention; however, in the simpler dialogue scenes, there is far too much pacing of the stage – the actors a little at sea. The decision for them to run lengths of the stage at the very end is an interesting idea, but one that I’m not sure works in practice.
The lighting design (Robert Price) deserves special mention and is superb; LED floor lamps that can be moved and manipulated by the actors are used to great effect. The use of hanging microphones from the ceiling is a neat idea, but I was slightly perplexed by the popped balloons and streamers strewn across the floor, especially with a piece that involves so much floor work. The streamers and confetti inevitably stick to the actors’ clothes throughout and is a little distracting.
Emily Stott, who plays wronged girlfriend Milly, has an emotional Everest to climb and for the most part does the role justice. Ultimately, with such powerful subject matter to deal with it needs immense emotional connection to portray the trauma that the characters encounter and I feel that it just falls short of that.
My verdict? An interesting look at an important subject matter, but an undercooked production.
Gifted runs at the Pleasance (Downstairs) until 19 May 2018. Tickets are available online or from the box office.