Oh the symbolism. The parallels. How profound. How real. How moving. Or least that’s what I think Alchemy in the UK writer Maggie Nevill was getting at with her bleeding obvious subtext.
If it wasn’t for the highly-esteem cast (yes, two of them were recurring characters in The Bill apparently) and the fact the writer has penned other plays (I dread to think) you could be forgiven for believing you were watching a play written by a first year drama student on their first day. And who is bottom of the class.
Set in Southampton, a father, recently made redundant, is going through the emotional toil of dealing with not being able to provide for his family. The loosely connected subplot follows a father (who is dying) and his son working at the dump. Oh, and I think the son is Banksy – confused?
Monologue follows monologue follows monologue as each of the ‘stars’ get their chance to pitch for an Olivier with ‘rousing, inspirational’ dialogue which I wouldn’t be surprised if followed in the script by pause for spontaneous applause. Note: there was no applause.
Satirical comedy, contemporary references and vulgar sexual language (it’s ok, this is legitimate theatre and that just makes the dialogue more powerful…) were all shoe-horned in to an otherwise distinctly unremarkable and often farcical script.
The second act benefitted from a paint drying scene which helped to pass the time.
It wouldn’t be fair to pass judgement on the five cast members given the basic material they were given to work with (besides, no one sold me a programme). That said, there were glimpses of what they were capable of when the action seemed to divert from the rigid script. And by glimpses, I mean twice.
Fortunately because of the Nuffield Theatre’s 15-25 club tickets were only £5 and there is always a post-show curry to look forward to.