Bound at Southwark Playhouse online
Despite a promising premise, Bound struggles to make full use of its scope of characters and conflict in a disappointing display of wasted potential. Hampered by Southwark Playhouse’s technical incompetence in presenting this recorded 2011 performance, the evident nuances of Jesse Briton’s portrayal of six Devon trawlermen struggling against one another and the elements are crushingly lost to inaudible dialogue and an overly audible audience, severing any meaningful attempts to track the narrative.
Bound, for all its issues, does confidently arrange its six protagonists, fishermen placed in dire straits by the imminent threat of bankruptcy and attempting to save a floundering business with one final voyage. Stationed against one another, the crew of the Violet embark upon a tense journey into a storm, attempting to overcome their personal conflicts in the process as well.
With colourful and humorous dialogue, Briton earnestly focuses on his vision, evoking sea shanties, dynamic lighting and physicality to bring about his minimal, nautical world. At its best, Bound displays the ingenuity of a writer-director eager to relate complex and psychologically meaningful narratives, with the prowess that has enabled him to craft his two following plays very much present.
But these moments of strength are few and far between in this meagre, predominantly one-angle recording. In spite of the obvious commitment of the performers onstage, a thoughtless lack of basic audio capture often results in characters drowning one another out, impassioned lines reverberating into distortion, and reactions from the audience, stationed just next to the camera, being deafeningly loud. Consequently, much of Bound’s wonder is lost to one of on-demand’s greatest weaknesses: the transition from stage to screen.
Given all that is on show, it is both a testament to the struggle of theatre to adapt to creating post-performance displays, and a shame that this particular piece could not triumph as it clearly means to. Bound, when you can hear it, is a promising play and a prime example of good new writing. However, its recording is what ultimately lets it down and leaves first-time viewers lost, trying to make sense of the muffled lines and piece the narrative together.
Photo: Southwark Playhouse
Bound is available to stream on Southwark Playhouse’s website now. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.