SUN at St Leonard’s Church
The end of the world is fast approaching and everywhere people are whispering, shouting, arguing, laughing, getting drunk and dancing with one another in final, desperate attempts at communication and connection.
How do humans engage with one another? How might this change in the face of extinction? What will future generations remember of us? These are all questions that playwright and director Alan Fielden addresses in his new play, which is showing now at St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch. The setting is certainly apt. Huddling in the hushed vestibule pre-performance, after walking up the gloomy pathway away from the bustle of the main road, one has the sense of seeking sanctuary within the shabby stone walls. Initiated with black and gold wrist bands and handed a sealed, brown paper envelope as a “programme”, the audience are made to feel a part of something secretive and unusual. Strangely blending in with the archaic surroundings, three metallic gold balloons suspend, dimly lit, from the ceiling, spelling out the play’s title: SUN.
Inside, the audience sit in close confines with actors who move between a wide variety of characters and scenes, constantly conversing. Watch out especially for Duncan Wilkins, who has a knack for timing his darkly comic lines perfectly. There seems to be an artificiality to the circumstances in which the characters interact. Whether it is the need for alcohol for them to speak openly, or music for them to dance to in order to physically get closer, or whether their experiences are in fact dreams, each engagement is cloaked in uncertainty. Love is initially central to many of the relationships portrayed and is later treated as an unnatural, human construct by a post-apocalyptic generation who try to interpret its significance. They view this unknown feeling of love alongside other unseen artefacts such as the aeroplane and the conference building.
The play is a uniquely experimental venture, presented by the National Art Service who have been creating independent theatre since 2010. They say: “We believe in respecting our audiences and their ability to think for themselves.” As you re-enter the world via the crowds of Shoreditch High Street, SUN certainly keeps you thinking.
SUN is at St Leonord’s Church, Shoreditch until 2nd March 2014. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.