Gods Are Fallen and All Safety Gone at Camden People’s Theatre
Tucked away from the bustle of Euston Road is Camden People’s Theatre, a small space dedicated to supporting artists making unconventional theatre. This time it brings to London the first major run of Greyscale’s, a Newcastle-based company, commended show Gods Are Fallen and All Safety Gone.
Taking its title from a John Steinbeck quote, Greyscale hints that the show is all about what happens when we recognise that our parents are actually flawed human beings. If you’re were unfamiliar with Steinbeck you might think this was some sort of supernatural slapstick hybrid. It certainly rolls off the tongue like a brick.
But, like all good plays, it doesn’t run like one. It’s a smooth piece that investigates lifelong relationships in less than an hour of repetitive conversations, each one stuffed thick with subtext lightly swathed by the spoken word, much like a delectable millefeuille.
There are four scenes and four people on stage. One pair is a real-life mother and daughter; the other two are Sean Campion and Scott Turnbull. The former sit on and watch intently as the other two play out their relationship. Hues of love, affection, rejection and resentment transcend the space into an ocean fraught with emotion, bursting with undercurrents with each rising wave. Carried on a surge of subtle emotions, reality gently ebbs away; it becomes effortless to forget that we are watching two men. Aside from the quality of Campion and Turnbull’s performance, how clever that the silent watchful presence of the real-life mother and daughter suggests some sort of transference takes place. Apt that, by that very suggestion, this play could just as easily befit a father-son relationship, or a mother-son relationship, or any combination you like. What matters are the layers of meaning, the simmering currents of emotion that could apply to any parental relationship.
The pacing of the actors, up and down, round and round as they pull out their lines at the beginning of the play, at first distracting, channels life’s march. The ferocity of time passing swiftly by, as like the actors we struggle to find solace in our relationships, finally comes to a standstill. And so do the actors. In their stillness we sense the longing, the deep ache from missing someone we care about, and that final, epiphanic moment when we wish we just had a little more time.
Gods Are Fallen and All Safety Gone is on at Camden People’s Theatre until 31st May 2015, for further information or to book visit here.