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The Tin Horizon review at Theatre 503 London

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In a dystopic future, where an over-mighty corporation and its shareholders administer a sinister eugenics programme, Vladimir is a taxidermist who once served the regime and now lives on the edges of society with his faithful hunchbacked retainer, Vermin. As an insurgency, led by the religious leader Saul, gathers pace, Vladimir teams up with his former lover, Meteora. But can they evade the long arm of the state?

Written in the style of sci-fi fantasy, with an awful lot of thee-ing and thou-ing, actor-turned-writer Orlando Wells’ debut is an odd mix of great laughs, imaginative flourishes and awkward, long-winded passages. His wry view of a bleak future only really comes alive in its comic scenes – especially those involving Vermin and the hilariously insecure strongman Walt – but the story is weighed down with over-complicated plotting and too much explication.

Still, there are moments to savour, such as Vermin’s recreation of the Quasimodo story using a couple of puppets and a dangling doorbell, and the character of Walt is one of those miraculously absurd individuals whose hyperventilating antics stay with you long after the show’s needlessly mawkish ending.

Designer Anna Bliss-Scully’s in the round set is versatile enough to accommodate the story’s ambitious shifts in time and place, although director Phoebe Barran struggles to find a consistent tone for Wells’ imaginary world. Her cast, however, are excellent, especially Nick Malinowski’s thoughtful Vladimir, Tanya Franks’s passionate Meteora, Thomas Morrison’s freakish Vermin and Gary Shelford’s hilarious Walt.

They are well supported by Mark Anthony Brighton as Ziad, Meteora’s current lover, Laurence Kennedy as the evil doctor Lucien and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as the charismatic Saul.

Production Information

Theatre 503, London, April 15-May 9

Orlando Wells
Phoebe Barran
Theatre503, Bird and Be
Cast includes
Tanya Franks, Nick Malinowski, Thomas Morrison, Gary Shelford
Running time
2hrs 25mins

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