In a city with proportionately few dedicated theatre venues, the Lantern (housed in south-coast drama school ACT Brighton) is a valuable and attractive space. But shows such as this one don’t light up the sky.
Written, directed and performed by newcomer Kyle Miley, Submission is clearly aiming for contemporary, Pinteresque dark comedy. To a blast of music, a hooded man stumbles into the theatre’s bare, black-box space, ditches the hood and starts arguing with himself.
It’s immediately clear from the visuals, and the dog tags, that the young man, Alec, is a prisoner of some unspecified war. But the allusions to Afghanistan and Iraq feel hollow and meaningless here because of the self-consciousness of the script.
The divided-psyche conceit behind Alec’s self-confrontation, as he struggles to recall where he is, is a contrivance that never turns into compelling theatre. Rather than any real sense of a crumbling mind, we get studenty cleverness.
From an impression of a dog to an interminably long rendition of George Michael’s Faith, nothing flows with ease. It’s as if Miley has a restless need to out-quirk himself, one eye always on the audience. He throws himself into his performance. But much more digging is needed to unearth the interesting ideas lurking below the surface.