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A Genesis of Karma: Three Faces of Evil

Gopi Warrier
New End Theatre
(2011)

A Genesis of Karma: Three Faces of Evil publicity graphic

Every production that I have seen at The New End has featured a moral, spiritual, philosophical or explicitly religious theme and A Genesis of Karma: Three Faces of Evil is no exception. Its attempt to combine all of these elements, however, is perhaps its downfall as the ambitions of the playwright and director are perhaps too epic for this little stage.

The exploration of Karma is a fascinating concept and the three episodes in which we witness it in action are tragic. A Jewish woman is harassed for sex by a Nazi officer, a novice nun is preyed upon by an Italian priest and an immigrant is abused by a racist thug. The link between the events is a mysterious figure who is stuck in purgatory.

The actors remain onstage for the whole show, listening to and watching their counterparts, and step into their characters through the addition of simple accessories and small pieces of costume. The men at times give stilted performances and it is the women (Lowri James and Reena Lalbihari) who stand out in this production, offering powerful and sincere interpretations of the roles. James' training in physical theatre is evident and Lalbihari's physicality also matches perfectly the anguish of her characters.

The set is clearly a labour of love and the orange and yellow hues create an earthy atmosphere completely contrasting with the actor's black costumes. The tree at the centre of the stage (half wood, half scaffold) from which their props are hung looks imposing and I found it frustrating that more was not made of this unusual centrepiece.

The piece has potential but in its current form unfortunately lacks the pace and energy to give the scenes any great sense of urgency. The movement sequences are employed effectively but with different levels of competence by the actors and, whilst an intriguing selection of music has been chosen, its usage is uneven, particularly when played over dialogue. There are lots of important ideas contained within the script and some very worthy statements about the state of humanity but these, I feel, have been articulated more succinctly in other plays with stronger structures and narratives.

"A Genesis of Karma: Three Faces of Evil" runs to 5th June

Reviewer: Amy Yorston