Harpy Productions in association with Stepping Out Theatre
theSpace on the Mile
Unfortunately, due to cast injury, the performance of Bunker which was attended for this review was, by necessity, a seated reading rather than a fully acted performance. While this does naturally mean that the physicality of the piece is lost, it does mean that the dialogue was far more in focus. It also will naturally detract from the overall experience.
It’s with that in mind that it needs to be said that Bunker isn’t a bad play. The concept, that of Maya waking up in her own underground post-apocalyptic bunker with head trauma, being nursed by a passing stranger, Alex, has a lot of potential. The actors both play their chalk and cheese survivors with distinct personalities and mostly understandable motives, and elicit more than a few laughs and winces at the appropriate moments. As the show continues, it becomes clear that the pair have vastly different outlooks on this barren post-collapse world, and their vying ideals may lead to confrontation and worse.
The problem with Bunker is that for a show mostly built around pages of dialogue from two people in one location, it suffers from the common issue that they spend a good deal of the runtime talking frustratingly around the questions the audience instinctively want answers to. There are far too many unanswered dangling threads, logical holes in the story and plain absurdities that don’t fit even with the personality characteristics in place.
It also doesn’t help that, the plot is more than a little predictable. While some key moments are surprising, the majority of the story unfolds as you more or less expect, with little deviation from a first guess, and this just compounds the dialogue taking leaps over obvious points to allow the plot to continue, meaning that instead of being invested in the plight of characters, instead you just dislike them intensely for their choices, and disengage emotionally.
In a way, and without any insult to Harpy Productions or Stepping Out Theatre, what they have constructed is a very formulaic piece of fringe theatre, one which certainly isn’t without merit, but also is far from being exemplary.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan