Cross Purpose at King’s Head Theatre
This fresh retelling of French author and philosopher Albert Camus’ dark tale of murder and confusion provokes the audience’s thoughts from the off. Cross Purpose, performed by AM Media Productions, is both tragic and comic throughout, telling the story of a long-lost son returning home, using a false identity, as a visitor to the murderous hotel run by his bitter sister and mother.
Any movement on stage shakes dust and dirt towards the audience, creating a decrepit atmosphere, matching Martha and her mother’s desolate frame of mind. This dank and mouldy hotel reception is the perfect setting to brood over questions of love, life and the soul.
Jamie Birkett is clearly the shining star of the bleak performance; her bitter and blunt portrayal of Martha carries a captivating intensity and her point-blank refusal of emotion offers surreal comedic breaks from the depressing action of the play. The part of the eerily silent manservant is also perfectly played by Leonard Fenton, who spends the evening shuffling silently across the stage and skulking in corners, perhaps joining the audience in quiet contemplation.
The direction is wonderfully sadistic; the brazen approach to killing and love leads the audience along with a gripping passion. However, the play is long-winded in parts. Monologues seem to dwindle on to bitter and, by that point, defunct conclusions, leaving the audience feeling as if something has been lost in the play’s translation.
Cross Purpose leaves the audience questioning the human conscience. Though the plot seems tedious in parts, it is made up for in passion with some superb performances and wickedly dark comedy. This spine-chilling performance definitely starts the thespian year with taste and passion, and is sure to have you weeping and laughing in the stalls.
Photos: Chris Gardner
Cross Purpose is at the King’s Head Theatre until 2nd February 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.