Sometimes as a reviewer one has to be careful not to give any of the plot away. It is generally obvious which bits to avoid talking about or to perhaps only slightly allude to. Similarly there may be scope to tease the reader with mysterious titbits and build up a sense of curiosity about the show. An ‘encourager’ to attend – you might say. Once in a while one comes across a play so well written and packed with unexpected events that it is hard to say much about the story without giving it all away. Such a play is Toby Campion’s Wreck produced by Nottingham Playhouse and Fifth Word playing at the Neville Studio until Sat 30th Sept.
Wreck is a one act play so suspenseful and gripping that there is a strict no latecomers policy. Once those studio doors are closed – that is it. Campion is an award-winning poet and his writing in this play is naturalistic, theatrical, well realised and knife sharp. The direction by Alexandra Moxon is acute and Abi Keating’s simple set works well in its effectiveness as a train crash waiting to happen. Tom Mowat’s lighting and sound (including other voices) for Wreck adds greatly to the drama of the piece.
This much we know from the flyer or brochure. A young man gets on a train for a long journey from Edinburgh to Nottingham. The flyer shows him holding two suitcases. He is alone. Somewhere, shortly into the journey there is an explosion and the train derails. The rest is unknown and Campion’s play takes us to the journey before the incident and the aftermath in a very believable, edge of your seat, frightening way. The studio environment helps with the claustrophobic nature of the story. The young man’s name is Tariq and he is played by Luke Grant in his first professional role.
Luke Grant is exceptional as Tariq. Always engaging as an actor he makes Tariq very likeable and sympathetic in his attempt to get his pre-booked seat in the train when, as he relates, someone else has occupied it. His storytelling skills are top class as he uses Campion’s well crafted words to convey other characters and how he likes the rail journey he has taken many times. He tells of his girlfriend Sophie. So eloquently does Grant paint these word pictures we can imagine her in his mind. His mother is also brought into the story through words. We can imagine her too. A nice caring family. This Tariq is a good guy and even when his world is turned frighteningly upside down in the train crash he is still there trying to aid others badly injured. Of course he is terrified of what just happened but, when the ambulances and police appear on the disaster scene everything takes on a much more sinister tone…
Wreck is one of best new plays that the Neville Studio has put on for a while and it is an hour of striking and thought provoking theatre that will live long in the audience’s mind after the event.
Reviewer: Phil Lowe