Written, directed and produced by Oliver Lansley
Les Enfants Terribles
Old Red Lion
Immaculate is Les Enfants Terribles' first tour and evidence of Lansley's energy to promote his work professionally. He, unlike so many other small theatre companies, understands that theatre is a business just like any other. By keeping production costs down (by being a one-man band—simple set, manning the lights, running front of house, writing, directing and production) he is able to invest back in his art. A lot of fringe productions could learn a lot from him.
So, what's the play about? Well, it's about the Second Coming and the kind of woman who gets picked for the job of incubating the saviour of mankind. Immaculate describes itself as a black comedy and there are moments of laughter throughout the play but this laughter was reminiscent of TV sitcom frolics. This is not too surprising when you take into consideration that Lansley has also set-up a production company called Room 5 Productions. I often felt that I was in a television studio as opposed to a theatre. Even the way the actors were directed had a strong television influence, with sparse physical movements or minimal scene changes.
This is probably why the Greek chorus jarred for me. It felt that Lansley was 'playing' with form and structure, as opposed to the chorus being a vital part of the play. Granted it was funny, but in a patronising way, as if to suggest we (the audience) need a recap on the drama that we saw only 20 minutes ago.
The characters in general, though entertaining, were often stereotypes and none of them, except maybe Mia (played by Sarah Kirkland), were terribly deep or three-dimensional. Rebecca, Mia's best friend (played by Claire Westwood), was interesting to watch as she delivered her monologues and speeches without drawing a breath, but I felt her character in the script was also lacking motivation. However, Westwood's performance was at least enjoyable, unlike James Seager, who played Michael, Mia's ex-boyfriend. Unfortunately his performance seemed rather pushed.
The questions the publicity material promises to address, such as 'The religious establishment, the misconceived conceptions that explore religion, relationships and responsibilities', were never really that serious or thought provoking. We were not brought into a new conversation about anything too pressing. This made the production rather 'safe' and not that challenging—perfect for the West End musical types, but I am still waiting to be knocked off my chair, I still want to be surprised and inspired and that's why I go to the theatre. Saying that, there is nothing wrong with good old fashion entertainment and that is what you will get from Immaculate.
Reviewer: Lennie Varvarides