This is an intriguing pairing of new plays from Dirty Market as part of their Stallholders Season, covering different themes but united by their eclectic styles.
Other Rooms by Debbie Kent is a series of intimate glimpses into the lives of the inhabitants of a block of flats. Claire (Caroline Langston) and Patrick (Simon Rhodes) are pacing through the night as her tendency to panic attacks is amplified by his tendency to write all night. Later, Stone (Ivan Marevich) and Lin (Georgina Sowerby) arrange an assignation that reveals a little too much of their inner feelings, while cleaner Nina (Jan Shepherd) tries to extricate herself from working for obsessive Danny (Alex Grimwood).
Directed by Kent, the cast give convincing performances across vignettes that present alienation and mental illness in a realistic, everyday light rather than the patronising harrowing or romantic approach. One soon wonders, however, how these strands ultimately tie up, and the conclusion disappoints.
Open Ground, written by Sarah Grochala, keeps to a single setting – a field by a road in what we soon realise is a strictly controlled police state. Broker Paul (Stephen Billington) has driven prissy Maddy (Caroline Devlin) here to declare his undying love for her. Their picnic is interrupted by fugitive Ruth (Nicola Harrison) whose frightened and wounded presence at first unites the couple in hatred but later threatens to split them.
The play starts weakly but Sowerby and Jon Lee’s joint direction eventually builds up the valuable momentum that the performers require. The human interaction is believable and occasionally shocks, but the story is clunky since it depends on the long outmoded depiction of an anonymous totalitarian society.
Theatro Technis, London, May 31-June 19
- Debbie Kent, Sarah Grochala
- Debbie Kent, Georgina Sowerby, Jon Lee
- Dirty Market
- Cast includes
- Caroline Langston, Simon Rhodes, Ivan Marevich, Georgina Sowerby, Jan Shepherd
- Running time
- 2hrs 30mins