Summit review at Shoreditch Town Hall, London – ‘an exploration of the limits of language’
Exploring the limitations of language and the vacuity of political discourse, Summit imagines an unlikely, optimistic butterfly effect which begins when international crisis talks are disrupted by a blackout.
Writer Andy Smith – who co-directs alongside Claire Lamont – includes all his usual hallmarks here, giving the show a bare-bones staging and a communal atmosphere, deconstructing his subject with deliberate artlessness.
Through punishingly circular loops of multilingual dialogue – including fluently integrated British Sign Language – the play’s three acts give us glimpses of the present, the recent past, and a bafflingly polyglot future. Though the characters tell us, repeatedly, that it’s a time of hope and progress, the hollowness of their commentary suggests it might be anything but.
Jamie Rea stands out with an especially intense performance, conveying a great depth of emotion while signing throughout. At one point, he delivers an impassioned, silent speech, its sincerity and expressive nuance completely clear. Beside him, Aleasha Chaunte delivers lines with the cheerful gentleness of a children’s TV presenter, while Nadia Anim rounds out the trio with warmth and humour.
The three performers hover around a lopsided music stand which supports a red notebook, reading their lines in long, thoughtful monologues or precise, overlapping bursts. Periodically, someone turns a page with ritualistic care, each exaggerated pause imbued with comic portentousness.
The cumulative effect is, quite intentionally, bewildering. Challenging but ultimately dissatisfying, the show becomes a disheartening depiction of the difficulty of even articulating, let alone resolving, the kinds of complex problems facing us today.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.