Nocturnes

Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks

Imitating the Dog

ZOO

From 21 August 2017 to 26 August 2017

Rating: ***

Review by Amy Yorston

A cinema screen is suspended over an almost empty stage which contains only 3 microphones, 3 chairs and a large table covered with piles of paper, all neatly stacked, all uniformly plain. It transpires they are pages of script.

With a crescendo of classical piano music, the opening credits start rolling and a rather strange scenario starts to unfold. A male and female actor in modern dress and with scripts in hand start speaking, syncing perfectly with film above them, which they can’t see.

In fact, they are the lead characters in the film, glossy film noir versions of themselves with perfect RP. The very centre of an unfolding 1950s spy drama. Intriguing and initially suspenseful, the plot begins to thicken as the tense modern actors start veering off script—not verbally but simply through tone of voice.

The lurking figure of ‘control’ keeps them supplied with fresh pages, her sinister presence clearly wielding some power. As the film begins to glitch and the narrative swerves off course, questions about free will and narcissism come into play as reality is blurred and an irate control uses all means necessary to get the story back on track.

The three-strong physical cast play a cat and mouse game, moving from microphone to microphone, position of vulnerability to position of power. Their real accents bleed through and their desperation becomes visible. With one thread of the story reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock and the other David Lynch, the narrative marches on regardless, adapting and reshaping as the drama plays out.

Cleverly staged, the attention to detail in this piece of work is astounding, however the slow, brooding pace that sets up this wartime/realtime thriller is ultimately it’s downfall. The beautifully executed concept is visually impressive but asks more than it can attempt to answer.