Stasis at the White Bear
A few hundred yards from Kennington tube station stands the White Bear Theatre: on first impression, an average street boozer, fronted with a few carefully placed wooden tables and benches. Then inside, tucked away behind a well-stocked bar, lies a theatre large enough to hold fifty-something spectators. There’s not a huge audience or space, but enough bodies to show enthusiastic appreciation for this new and highly imaginative production. The play is the birth-child of Emily Holyoake, brought to the world through Encompass Productions, a newly-running company celebrating a youthful fifth anniversary.
Just two actors grace the small darkened space, but Holyoake still manages to infuse more presence and pack a harder punch in ninety minutes than she has achieved in her entire career. This sci-fi story about a stowaway’s survival on a spacecraft mission takes us on an intimate journey, as Ren (Naomi Stafford) must overcome her increasing isolation and depleting oxygen to get herself, and the crew who are in stasis, back to Earth. With only a hologram (Ceridwen Smith) for company and a computer board for expert information, Ren’s options are limited. Or are they?
Stafford is convincing as a vulnerable, feisty female fighting against all odds, utilising every resource she can. She conveys a multidimensional character, interchanging between desperation, distress, innocence and pain. Smith equally impresses by creating a believably two-dimensional, emotionless entity, as efficient as it is inert. Her physicality and voice are indeed praiseworthy, measured also against her ability to ease in and out of the crew members’ characters like spooning maple syrup.
Aside from the high quality performance and narrative, the backdrop is cleverly executed, a real testimony to all those who working backstage on a shoestring budget. Owen Pritchard Smith’s use of lighting, and the excellent soundtrack available for purchase, anchor us to the small confines of a spaceship, complemented by Scarlet Sweeny’s mechanistic voice over as the ship’s computer.
Stasis takes theatre to a place where it has not yet been. And despite its humble first home, it’s a giant of a play that, hopefully, it is just a matter of time before someone beams it up and transports it to a superior spacecraft.
Stasis is on at White Bear Theatre from 14th April until 25th April 2015, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the Trailer for Stasis here: