Paradise - Review By Evie Wakefield

Written by Nick Wood
Directed by Allie Spencer and Amanda Hall.                                                      Performed by The Playhouse Ensemble.
Paradise was originally commissioned by the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield to be a companion piece to their production of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’.
 I saw this play on the 20th June at the Neville Studio, Nottingham Playhouse.
The play is about the members of a small community who find themselves in the middle of a civil war. Many friendships are tested and new ones develop despite the pressure of the conflict and the villagers’ battle to preserve their humanity.

The play features a range of actors of different ages, from adolescents to senior citizens. I felt this benefitted the production because it reflected the actual community instead of using actors of the same age to play all the characters e.g a middle aged woman playing a teenager wouldn’t work as well as a young woman playing the same part.

The performance begins with the cast lying on the ground in various positions some with props on top of them so it appears as if they had been crushed on a battle field. Coldplay’s hit song ‘Paradise’ plays softly in the background.

The characters are introduced in small groups, according to who they live or socialise with in the community – e.g. Mrs Leman the school teacher (played by Melanie Hamilton) and her pupils; Peter and Anna the young lovers (played by Hugo Tabouret and Fatosh Olgacher). During the play some of these social groups break down as the audience learns more about the villagers’ personal lives, attitudes and prejudices (including sexism, racism, trust issues, grief and loss) as they separate into two groups who fight each other while trying to escape to safety.

The artforms involved in this production were drama, dark comedy, music, sound effects and visual graphics (using a projector screen to show news reports as the conflict approaches).

I thought the tone for this play was thought-provoking and topical because of the current global situations in modern society; it reminded me that civil war can break out anywhere.

My favourite aspect of the play was the set design as it was very original and multi-functional – e.g. benches were used for the school and waiting room scenes and as beds.                                                                                                       The set was mainly white and grey with a backdrop that featured:
·        Sketches of famous landmarks (i.e. The London Eye and The Statue of Liberty)
·        A window frame which doubled up as a television screen and was removed from the backdrop to create a doorway.
·        Movable trees and lamp-posts which were used during the final scene to demonstrate the devastating impact of the final explosion.

The performance room is a black box-style theatre (with seating on the three sides) so it is more intimate between the audience and company, it also gives members of the audience a good view wherever they sit.

I would recommend this production for anyone who likes topical and/or original theatre and for people who are aged 12+ as there is mild language however I felt this was relevant to the subject matter.

-Evie Wakefield