Brutal and unnerving, Neil LaBute’s Bash knocks the audience off their feet at the Baron’s Court Theatre. Olivia Rowe directs three one-act plays, each of which are emotionally draining on a verbal, visual and visceral level. Baron’s Court’s tiny space places the audience unnervingly close to the monsters located in each of the plays. The texts exemplify guilt, homophobia and paedophilia in an attempt to justify the murderous theme which connects them.
The understated lighting and simple aesthetic of all three pieces focused the audience’s attention towards the captivating performances of both actors. The audience follows the actors as they develop and reference the worlds they inhabit, physically and imaginatively. The two actors, James Le Feurve and Faye Winter, effortlessly guide the audience through the intricacies of the texts whilst suspending them in an unnervingly tense and unpredictable nightmare.
Winter concludes the production flawlessly as she takes a reluctantly emotional audience on a horrific journey with a poignant and charismatic performance
In Iphigenia in Orem Le Feuvre enticed and mesmerised the audience with his ability to visually project and imprint the image of another character onstage as he conversed with a vacant chair. In the midst of an uncomfortable can’t-look-but-can’t-look-away sort of torture, the audience are transfixed by Le Feuvre’s ability to rouse empathy, hatred, and guilt without any assistance. Faye Winter joins Le Feuvre for the second play A Gaggle of Saints. Together they demonstrate a charmed chemistry and grace. This chemistry is quickly tainted as the piece descends into a nauseating farce. A man is robbed and brutally beaten by Le Feuvre’s whilst his unsuspecting girlfriend sleeps. The two characters that Winter presents to her audience are distinct,precise and believable. The audience is entranced as she takes on the role of a childish victim-come-offender in the final text Medea Redux. Winter concludes the production flawlessly as she takes a reluctantly emotional audience on a horrific journey with a poignant and charismatic performance.
Rowe’s direction was delicate and simple, allowing the audience to be completely engrossed in the intricacies and the repulsive content of all three texts. Each play attempts to mask the culpability of its murderers by offering hideous justifications. The characters in each of the texts divulge their darkest secrets as they attempt to mask their responsibility. The murders are made logical by the characters blaming of religious beliefs, a supposed fate, or a tainted vulnerability for their actions. Three murders are forcefully and tragically made ‘defensible’ as this production produces humane monstrosities to torment its reeling audience repeatedly.
This production of Bash restrains the audience, holding them hostage in a disgusted silence. It will astound, horrify and disturb as it dares you look in to the darkest, most atrocious side of humanity. Not even the faint of heart should miss this visceral treat.
**** (4 stars)
Runs until 17th June