Cans at Theatre503
Stuart Slade’s relationship with Kuleshov and Theatre503 continues to produce wickedly funny yet very thought-provoking theatre with his latest play Cans, which also proves timely in its approach to recent news events.
The theme of identity, and how it can change with time, experience and perspective, is presented through the eyes of a teenage girl, Jen, following her father’s suicide. Intimate, funny and occasionally inappropriate chit chat with her Uncle Len carries the narrative forward, with each of the five scenes spaced roughly a month apart. All scenes run for around 20 minutes, and would probably work as individual short plays. The order and placement presents a clear passing of time, though, and the turning points construct a clear three-act structure.
Dan Pick’s direction was simple but appropriate, for the story and the stage (the theatre is snugly slotted above a pub in Battersea). Graham O’Mara’s portrayal of Uncle Len was superb, from the twitches and slouched posture, to his “crazy-eye” stare, and he can be truly commended for his ability to remember every line despite consuming so much alcohol throughout the play. As Jen, Jennifer Clement’s performance was perfectly solid, though often overshadowed by O’Mara’s skill and conviction. As emotions intensified and the climax approached, the final scene was most definitely her strongest point, with many audience members finding it difficult to remain dry-eyed.
Although Cans is clearly inspired by recent events and provides a distinct social commentary on such stories, particularly the public’s reaction and the frequent need for a scapegoat, it’s also a reflection on us as individuals, and the relationships we have with our loved ones and those around us. Time can provide a clean slate, but it can’t erase the past.
Photo: Tani Van Amse
Cans is on at Theatre503 until 29th November 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Cans here: