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The Amber Trap review at Theatre503, London – ‘intriguing but underdeveloped’

Olivia Rose Smith and Misha Butler in The Amber Trap at Theatre503, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Young lovers Katie (Olivia Rose Smith) and Hope (Fanta Barrie) are about to celebrate their second anniversary. They still work in the corner shop where they first met. It’s also the place where they steal kisses when nobody is looking; Katie is still in the closet.

New employee Michael (Misha Butler) believes he has a shot with Katie. He attempts to woo her with magic tricks, impressive juggling skills and his extensive knowledge of the human skeletal system. Though he initially comes across as a harmless and endearingly awkward adolescent with an innocent crush, things turn sinister when Katie does not respond to his advances.

Tabitha Mortiboy’s exploration of the effect of the male gaze on female relationships feels underdeveloped. The build-up to the denouement takes too long and, though it is perfectly executed when it finally comes, the conclusion is abrupt and unsatisfying.

It’s nicely designed: Jasmine Swan’s set is a tiny little matchbox version of a corner shop with aged blue-green paint decorating the walls. Lucy Adams’ harsh fluorescent lighting illuminates the action. The space is cluttered with shelves that are stacked to the brim with cheap booze, tampons and biscuits. The design both reflects and intensifies the claustrophobia of the situation.

Butler gives the standout performance as Michael, playing his sociopathic tendencies with unnerving conviction. Some of the other performances are occasionally stiff and the show as a whole feels in need of further development.

Beacons review at Park Theatre, London – ‘warm-hearted’

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Verdict
Intriguing but underdeveloped exploration of the male gaze on female relationships
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