The Nether review at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff – ‘a morality tale for the modern age’
After a successful run at the Royal Court in 2014, Jennifer Haley’s controversial sci-fi drama receives its Welsh premiere, courtesy of Company of Sirens and Good Cop Bad Cop. Questioning whether simulated deviance should be treated the same as real crime, The Nether is a morality tale for the modern age.
Two men are being interrogated about their involvement in The Nether, a virtual world where users can lead an alternate existence. One such corner of this world is The Hideaway, where paying guests are given the freedom and anonymity to indulge their darkest fantasies with children.
Imagination is pivotal not only for the characters, but also for the audience. In a play so layered and complicated, Good Cop Bad Cop’s minimalist design and director Chris Durnall’s restrained direction are extremely effective. Something as simple as turning on a lamp is enough to determine who sits in the interrogation room, while The Hideaway’s Victorian setting is in fact a green screen on stage. The audience decides what this virtual reality looks like.
Durnall also stars in the piece as one of the detainees, but it’s John Rowley (as Sims, creator of The Hideaway) and Stacey Daly (as Detective Morris) who really shine. Rowley’s measured delivery makes Sims that much more sinister, while Daly shows great emotional range as the symbol of justice.
The cast never leave the stage, merely retreating to a corner to wait for their next scene. Like the audience, they become omniscient voyeurs in this disturbing world.cardcard