Every One at Battersea Arts Centre
As the stereotypical British middle-class family arrives onstage in Chris Goode’s adaptation of Every One, you wouldn’t blame the audience for expecting to see a naturalistic piece tentatively exploring the grief that follows the loss of a loved one. It soon becomes clear that what the audience will see is nothing of the sort. Engaged from the word “go,” we are told a story, each character speaking directly to the audience, which is not only about grief but also touches on the infinite subjects of death, life and everything in-between.
The narrative consists for the most part of a series of short monologues, in which the different family members voice their memories of daily concerns and later their reactions following the death of the mother. When held up plainly next to one another, the larger problems that present themselves in life render the everyday problems almost ridiculous, but the characters carry on almost unknowingly.
The play itself is explorative and questioning, and opens up complex theories of time and the afterlife. Aside from the elderly mother’s dubious change of accent and several script trip-ups across the board, the cast put in an emotional and believable performance, with standout heart-wrenching speeches delivered by Michael Fenton Stevens after the death of his character’s wife. The refreshingly comedic personification of death is a quirky twist in the piece and is performed magnificently by Nigel Barrett with a booming voice that grants him a real presence on stage.
However, drawing on elements of surrealism, some of the techniques used during the piece are perhaps not quite sophisticated enough to create the intended dramatic effect: namely, the use of a smoke machine, unnecessary musical intervals and the random, if beautiful, modern dance performance. It is difficult to be sure if the clock positioned on the back wall is intended to be falling towards the floor, but it would be nice to interpret it rather as a poignant reminder of mankind’s relationship with time.
Despite this, the show is certainly enjoyable, entertaining and it will get audiences thinking. Keep an open mind, go and see this play and see how you choose to interpret it yourself.
Every One is on at Battersea Arts Centre from 2nd until 19th March 2016, for further information or to book visit here.