Claustrophobia

Jason Hewitt

To The Moon in association with Theatre Bench

Zoo

From 01 August 2014 to 25 August 2014

Rating: ***

Review by Graeme Strachan

When a lift breaks down with two strangers inside it, we're confronted with an awkward and at first mildly uncomfortable situation. Who are these people?

Given that one is a towering, well-built young man and the other a diminutive, fragile looking young woman, what will happen? As the tension builds, what will grow and build from the interactions between them?

Given the plain, open opportunity for heavy, dramatic tension and an undercurrent of fear, it's odd that Claustrophobia instead almost immediately eschews the tension in favour of some lighthearted comedy, as the two strangers clumsily try to joke and relieve each other's worries.

It becomes very quickly apparent that the pair aren't a threat to one another and, after this, the scenario becomes more interesting in a different way.

Jessica MacDonald and Paul Tinto both do fine work as the the unnamed 'She' and 'He', each shying away from a hidden pain and form of self-loathing, which slowly begins to unravel as the passage of time become less and less clear.

As the piece progresses, 'She' begins to make occasional breaches of the stage's 'lift' demarcations; as the light and sound alter, we begin to see that the place of captivity in which the two reside is more metaphorical than real, and it's entirely possible to read everything beyond the first few scenes as an extended metaphor for the breakdown in a relationship because of hidden and unfaced fears.

It's an interesting piece, which aims high and, although never quite achieving the clarity for which it aims, still proves thought-provoking and insightful.