13th - 15th March
Director/Designer: Chelsey Gillard
Producer/Assistant Director: Chloe Jenkins
Stage Manager: Gabriel Burke
Cardiff Met's new Drama Society, Hinge Productions, debuted this week with an ambitious production of the complex and controversial play, 'Pornography' by Simon Stephens.
'Pornography' is a play that explores a number of characters' lives in the run up to the announcement of London's successful Olympic bid and the traumatic and tragic 7/7 bombings, automatically setting expectations of high tension, a roller coaster of emotions and the title hinting at a level of taboo and sexual content.
Hinge handled the challenging text and multiple story-lines extremely well, using minimal but significant lighting to divide and punctuate each scene, and letting the stories flow in an expected rhythm for the majority of the performance, making it easy to follow despite the anonymity and the sheer number of characters.
The set design was simplistic but thought provoking, with a Union Jack flag duvet ever present on the central bed on and around which most of the action played out. The floor strewn with shredded newspapers highlighted the chaos of the time and the pollution of London, both physically and mentally whilst the news desk voices projected from the back of the audience constantly reminded us of the victims and elements of their lives that made them innocently human and therefore the knowledge of their demise even more impacting.
These 'interludes' evoking contemplation in the audience also added to the rise and falls in tension that were at times expertly played out by the key actors. Giorgia Marchetta, playing the working mum whose seemingly humdrum life with an uninterested husband and a pigheaded boss, takes us through a number of complex emotions in each of her scenes. She does this effortlessly, making the audience feel her loneliness, her intense love for her child, and enjoy the humour of her odd thoughts. Luke Gardner also plays a great part in the young boy whose crush on his teacher turns to obsession and eventually violence as he pulls his focus away from a volatile family environment and the awkwardness of adolescence.
Each storyline was played to a good standard and well directed, with the controversial love story between two sisters handled particularly well, and the awkward and fake flirting between ex-student and professor providing some of the lighter entertainment before coming to a heated end. Aruneema Lahon's portrayal of the socially starved and OAP is both hilarious and moving and a great role for a young actress.
It was clear that all players were given the opportunity to perform a part, which did at some points make the scenes and set feel cluttered and, once or twice, a little clunky. However, the large and ever present cast was well utilised, particularly in the rush hour scenes during the last moments before the terrorist attack on the tube systems where the cast reflected both the high pace of London and the slow-motion moments that must have played out in the bombers' minds.
Though there were areas that could have done with refinement, Hinge Productions has already made their mark with this successful exploration of the normality and perversities of human nature in this first production, hitting on the humour and horror of real life and giving the audience plenty to talk about.
I look forward to seeing what they will dare to bring us next.