first night

Four Minutes Twelve Seconds

Josie Williams watches a contemporary dissection of modern technology in Pitch Productions' latest offering.

 Firstly, if you haven’t seen this play yet, don’t read this review – just go see it tonight. All you need to take from this is that it is a piece of theatre that you will regret missing, with four faultless performances from the cast, but it is best seen without knowing anything more than that about it.

In the wake of the Brock Turner case, this play was a disturbingly topical reflection of rape culture and the impact it has on the different parties involved. Focusing on the parents was a novel and effective angle, allowing the character of ‘Jack’ to be built without us seeing him once. This worked well, as throughout both his parents’ and the audience’s gradual realization of what he had done, he could appear in our heads as every different version of himself as others saw him – from the innocent, victimized child that Di initially believed him to be to the self-entitled rapist, believing he’s done nothing wrong that Cara must see him as.

Sarah Slimani, as Di, was astoundingly good - always a delight in comedic roles, she was hugely entertaining in the more light-hearted beginning of the play, going on to demonstrate the versatility of her talent by flawlessly switching between humor and truly heart breaking moments, such as when she eventually watched the video.

Slimani and Zac Tiplady, as David, played off each other brilliantly, bringing out the humor of the beginning of the play and tricking the audience into thinking the tone of the play was much more light hearted than the subject matter at hand, but again slipping seamlessly between serious and funny bits. Tiplady’s characterization was impressive throughout, developing David from entertainingly unconcerned father to a truly horrible person with a subtlety which made it difficult to put a finger on where we really started to hate him.

Eliza Cummings-Cove as Cara, and Rohan Perumatantri as Nick, were also both fantastic. I initially thought that Cara was unnecessarily unsympathetic, but grew to realize it was just a very human portrayal of a young girl in a situation with no solution. Despite the smallest amount of stage time, Perumatantri created a well rounded and refreshingly likeable character.

My only small issues were with the script - without giving too much of the story away, there were moments where explanations for the characters' motivations were a bit drawn out, leaving the audience confused for too long. I also felt that the plot developed a tad too slowly - even actors as fantastic as Slimani and Tiplady couldn't quite be engaging enough for it not to feel like the play was dragging at times, and it could have benefited from being slightly shorter. I was also initially confused by the lack of blackouts between scenes – the actors simply moving or pausing for a moment to portray a time skip was slightly ambiguous at certain moments.

I’m not sure if this play had a certain message, as such, but it doesn’t need one. It was a moving and beautifully acted portrayal of something which is a terrifyingly frequent part of modern life, and although it was by no means perfect, I would certainly call it a ‘must see’.

14 June 2016

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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