Monday, 3 June 2019

REVIEW: River in the Sky at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre

River in the Sky is written and directed by Peter Taylor. The play has potential; a two-hander, the unnamed man and woman delve into storytelling to distract them from the grief of losing their baby. The woman, played by Lindsey Cross, runs away to live in an abandoned caravan and has seemingly become agoraphobic from the trauma of it all. Her ex-partner, actor Howard Horner, visits regularly to check on her, bringing tea and biscuits and tentatively discussing their loss, blame and the future they may have together. 

From the first scene, I found the characters unconvincing and bland. Cross appeared nervous and awkward onstage, especially in comparison to Horner’s confidence and humour. They both warmed up as the play progressed, but the acting was not gripping enough to keep my focus. The script is slow to reach the plot, the themes of the play aren’t initially evident as too much time is spent on lingering conversations (which, I’m assuming, is to build suspense for the reveal) but unfortunately it made me lose interest. Aside from the witty comments here and there, the script could have done with some fine-tuning before the performance. 

The couples’ escapism manifests in both reality and the imagination. Long, dramatic stories are told about monsters and adventures. This was well written and incredibly descriptive, however, it would have been better placed in a children’s book. For an adult production it was repetitive and lacked purpose. Despite the actors’ best efforts to create atmosphere in the show, no amount of ‘f’ words made the play more exciting.

Taylor’s direction encouraged a good use of space and physicality. Overall, River in the Sky has an excellent concept, but it is not well executed. The simple set and lighting allowed them to play on the visuals while performing. With the right amount of work, I believe River in the Sky could do more to draw out the characters so that the darker scenes are more emotional. I would cut out the dreamy worlds and focus on the core issues; implications of their loss it has and how relevant this is to many couples facing trauma and not knowing how to cope with it. 
Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★

Seat: Unreserved |Price of Ticket: £12/10
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