Act and Terminal 3 at the Print Room
This double bill of works by the Swedish writer Lars Norén falls flat at the Print Room. Well-staged and well-performed, but let down by a confusing narrative.
Act displays the relationship between a captured terrorist and the physician that comes to visit her. Supposedly. Even that could be called into question as the play constantly messes facts and figures about. The show attempts to be Orwellian in its handling of the truth; during lines of questioning, the doctor gets the terrorist to believe things that are different to what she previously thought.
But unlike Orwell’s efforts, there doesn’t seem to be a point. And there’s no context to judge this manipulation of truth against. The audience can’t even be certain that the truth is actually being manipulated: the terrorist says at the beginning that she has a problem with her memory, so she may just be misremembering while the doctor is telling her the absolute facts.
And then the doctor himself seems to start misremembering things as if he’s having a breakdown in the room. And at a number of points, the terrorist is able to predict what the doctor is about to say, as if she has psychic powers. None of this is explained.
Terminal 3 is markedly better. Two couples enter hospital waiting rooms. One is there to give birth, the other to identify the body of their dead son. The play looks at how the parents’ relationships are changed by the birth or death of their child.
Unfortunately, although well-performed by all the actors, none of the characters are particularly likeable. And with no one to really care about, these intertwining stories become difficult to engage with.
However, the use of a turning screen separating the couples – the smoke and the lighting bouncing off it – gives this drama a wonderfully dark and enigmatic feel. It looks really quite special. And while the production as a whole isn’t quite fulfilling, it is at the very least an enjoyable piece of visual art.
It’s hard to know what this double bill is supposed to be. The plays don’t quite work as pieces of entertainment, nor as pure pieces of art, nor as commentary (political or otherwise), nor as a means to educate. And regardless, there are better things on in London to go and see.
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Act and Terminal 3 is at Print Room from 1st June until 30th June 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.