Escape the Scaffold at Theatre 503
Directed by award-winner Hannah Price, Escape the Scaffold by Titas Halder is an eloquently written psychological thriller about dreams, fears and confusion amid dangerous intrigue surrounding a love triangle.
Three college friends question what to do with their lives while grappling with a romantic tug-of-war. Confused about direction, loyalty and affections they ponder: should they choose art but insecurity or more conventional, safe modes of living? Do they follow their passions or opt for “sensible” lifestyles? Who do they love and who can they trust? Faced with angst and terrors, they wonder if they could just stay in their student house, barricade it and live there forever.
Grace (Rosie Sheehy) is torn between two amorous attachments: for her devoted but conservative husband-to-be Marcus (Charles Reston), or her dashing, daring artist, activist lover Aaron (Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge). The men are at times loyal chums, at others dangerous enemies. Seeping through their polite chit chat is hostility and their sanity is often questionable. Grace in particular seems periodically unhinged in her perceptions, her creative vision and her volatile flip-flopping between two men – which evolves into double-dealing and ruthlessness. Ultimately she chooses herself.
Entailing jumps through time, the narrative skips back and forth between the characters’ student days and their adult lives – involving marriage, as well as frightening “super-spy” suspense in an Orwellian police state where imprisonment and torture are commonplace, even among friends.
Very pensive in nature, the piece poetically delves into philosophical ponderings and psychological states, of turmoil, ambivalence, love, hate, prejudice, trepidation and insanity. Paranoia prevails throughout as the characters’ tension reveals constant fear of ominous forces beyond, and confusion about loyalties, vocation and direction. Differences in perceptions are examined to the point of questioning their validity: how much is real and how much is fantasy?
The set is simple and effective – adjusted by the players – and the lighting is fervid and moody, as is the eerie luminescence creeping through floorboards and cracks in the wall as if emphasising the dreamlike nature and madness of this world. Creating an aura of disquietude, the background music is quite imposing, reminding one of French film noir. With Woody Allen-esque cross-talk dialogue, the writing is complex, witty, esoteric, thoughtful and brilliant, and the acting is superb.
Enlightening, funny, thought-provoking, but a disturbing, sometimes chilling work, Escape the Scaffold makes for an intriguing, fascinating theatrical experience.
Photo: Aenne Pallasca
Escape the Scaffold is at Theatre 503 from 22nd March until 15th April 2017, for further information or to book visit here.