This Must Be the Place at Vault FestivalCultureTheatre
Brad Birch (recipient of the Royal Court’s 2016 Pinter Commission) and BAFTA nominee Kenneth Emson’s first collaboration, This Must Be The Place, is an analysis of 21st-century existence. Focusing on issues from social networking to strained domestic relationships, the Poleroid Theatre-produced piece is directed by Royal Shakespeare Company alumni Justin Audibert and Josh Roche, and is a snapshot of the lives of four individuals: two struggling to get to London and two struggling to bear being there.
The play is intelligently directed and the audience is greeted by four 20-somethings, each holding a microphone. As the individuals move about the space, the cables become more and more entangled, serving as a reminder that everyone is connected. This theme of connection is littered throughout, and the visual symbolism shows a simple yet purposeful use of the space.
The script has an elegant, poetic feel and despite the emotive subject matter it never lectures and successfully avoids clichés. Writing such an evocative piece is testament to the abilities of Birch and Emson, and with a very able cast the dialogue flows nicely. A particularly strong duo are Feliks Mathur and Hamish Rush (who play Tate and Matty respectively), who utilise perfect comic timing, while their characters both wait for a “nasty painter and decorator” to take them to London. Despite the wit and charm of the lines themselves, thematically This Must Be the Place is hard to pin down, as it never quite chooses a particular message, instead opting to skim politely over the topics of social media, connection, family and home, without truly delving into the gizzards of these well-chosen themes.
Running for just under an hour, it’s hard not to think that if it had a more fleshed out script, the piece would have more impact; nevertheless, this show serves as a relevant, albeit shallow snapshot, of life in the 21st century. This Must Be the Place features many of the right ingredients for a wonderful night of theatre, with a satirical text, clever direction and a gifted ensemble, but perhaps it will leave audiences wanting just a little bit more.
Photo: Matthew Foster
This Must Be the Place is at Vault Festival from 8th until 12th February 2017, for further information or to book visit here