Wild at Hampstead Theatre Online
As part of their timely and exciting new initiative to bring theatre straight to our living rooms, Hampstead Theatre – in collaboration with The Guardian – have released a recording of their acclaimed 2016 production Wild. The play is a cat and mouse game brought to the stage: a story of trust, or rather mistrust, politics and cunning wit.
Three days ago, Andrew changed the world with a simple click of a button. In a situation which is not dissimilar to Edward Snowden’s WikiLeaks scandal, he has revealed information to the public and now finds himself stateless and under threat of assassination. So, he sits in wait with the audience – trapped within the four walls of a hotel room that seems to get smaller and smaller with every passing minute as the dangers of the outside world threaten to spill in. Unable to contact his family, his girlfriend Cindy or his friends, there seems to be no clear end in sight for our protagonist.
However, Andrew doesn’t spend his time in complete isolation. He is joined at regular intervals by a man and woman who give him brief snippets of information from the world beyond his hotel room. It’s never quite clear who they are or what they want. We do not know their real names. Are they offering him protection? Are they interrogating him? Whose side are they on? Some questions are better left unanswered, and writer Mike Bartlett does an excellent job at deciding just how much information to give the audience – trickled down to us in whispered conversations – to keep you entranced throughout.
Admittedly, it takes a little while for the story to start – though perhaps this is purposeful, as the audience, like the protagonist, are kept in suspense as to what is really happening. However, once the dust begins to settle in the room, the pace picks up and the story takes off. The play’s closing scenes are perhaps the most powerful: a moment where clever writing and political statements are expertly joined by impressive staging and a plot twist that you don’t quite see coming. In short, Wild is a well-crafted piece of theatre supported by an equally strong cast of performers. It’s the kind of show that you think about long after you have finished watching. This must-see production questions the nature of whistleblowing, secrets and governmental control with wit, passion and drive.
Photo: Stephen Cummiskey