Sunday, 22 January 2023

REVIEW: In the Net at the Jermyn Street Theatre

The sense of community has enjoyed a new lease of life in recent years. Covid, the cost of living crisis and refugees fleeing persecution have created a network of community carers. They pull together to create a safe environment for those who enter their orbit. We can see human nature at its very best as community heals and nurtures change. Such themes are explored in this new play written by Misha Levkov. The cosy confines of the Jermyn Street Theatre echo with sounds of a vibrant inner city landscape. Police sirens, traffic and lively vocal exchanges provide the soundtrack as the story begins.

Laura (Carlie Diamond) is coming to terms with the death of her mother Myriam. Half-sister Anna (Anya Murphy) now shares a deeper bond as both have lost their mother. Their father Harry (Hywel Simons) is anxious to sell the family home in Kentish Town and start a new life on the coast. However, Laura has other ideas and plans a tribute to Myriam with her own version of Eruv, a practice employed under Jewish law, where a wire boundary extends the private domain of households into public areas on the Sabbath.

The grieving daughter puts her own secular spin on Eruv by creating a safe space for all; a place where people can find friendship, support and a true sense of community. They begin to construct their Eruv although they meet opposition along the way. It becomes a haven for Hala (Suzanne Ahmet), a Syrian refugee who is sponsored by the family. However, her right to asylum is questioned by the authorities, particularly an immigration officer (Tony Bell) who is investigating her application.

In the Net is an intelligent, thoughtful and well-acted piece that undoubtedly makes the audience think 'outside the box'. It is visually arresting with a network of wires sweeping across the stage in act two. Some excellent use of light and shade also creates an atmospheric glow. It raises many questions, and is easy to wonder what is real and what is imagined in these characters’ lives; is the net symbolic of an ideal yet to be realised? Those unfamiliar with Judaism may also struggle with the concept of Eruv. It slows the narrative down and is the play's one real weak spot. However, perseverance has its reward, and what emerges is a solid production from a playwright with great potential.

Review by Brian Penn

Rating: ★★★

Seat: E10 | Price of Ticket: £35/£31 concessions

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