The System ★★★★ Original Theatre Company (online) | Sep 8 - Dec 5, 2021


A man is murdered at his own birthday party and the police must interview the suspects. The premise is quite simple. But, starting from that point, Emily Head has set herself a formidable task as both an actor and a writer. It is not a small feat to individuate a wide variety of characters using only minimal props and without the help of costumes. Head does a brilliant job of capturing speech patterns and idiosyncrasies to ensure that the audience can distinguish amongst her creations. If we had any quibble with the production, it is probably with the 'whodunit' genre itself which, because it is plot driven, always makes character development seem secondary. Head creates some fascinating personae but the format and the time constraint left us wanting more. This show does not belong to Head alone, however. Ben Eeley's camera work is quite astonishing. Filming the production in a single shot, Eeley uses his Steadicam to take on the role of police interviewer while also acting as the audience's eyes. It is a masterful technical feat. A lot of the success of the piece is also due to the fact that director, Guy Unsworth, has embraced the hybrid of theatre and film born of Covid and does not present us with simply a filmed version of a play. This is a work that strives to provide the immediacy of theatre with the intimacy of film and it works. This one's a must-see!

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by James Findlay.

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