Veritas Theatre Company in association with Park Theatre
Stories about missing children and abuse are never going to be an easy watch but Spiral aims to add layers of emotional complexity by overlapping the two.
Tom and Gill’s daughter Sophie has gone missing and they are desperate for answers. Theirs is a marriage under considerable strain. Equally under pressure is Leah (coincidently a Sophie look alike) whose overbearing and abusive boyfriend is forcing her to work as an escort, but not one that offers extras. He wants the men to want her but the suspicion that things might go further only creates a circle of mistrust and fear between the two.
As the title suggests, these are characters whose lives are spiralling out of control. The play opens on a seemingly queasy note with Leah dressed as a schoolgirl—Tom has hired her services. It becomes apparent, however, that he wants to escape reality and just pretend that he’s talking to his teenage daughter; thus an unlikely friendship blossoms.
And herein lies the issue with the piece: by concentrating on the relationship of these two intelligent but troubled souls, the other characters become rather one-dimensional. Gill is depressed, drinking and praying whilst Mark is repeatedly and violently flying off the handle.
That’s not to diminish the actors, however; Tracey Wilkinson’s Gill is at breaking point, stuttering and twitching, exhausted from a rollercoaster of negative emotions. Kevin Tomlinson’s Mark stalks the stage alternating between sleazy ‘jack the lad’ and full-blown thug.
As Leah and Tom, Abigail Hood and Adam Morris drive the piece forward and share a good stage chemistry, Morris largely understated whilst Hood is consistently animated, a combination of enthusiasm and nervous energy. It’s a believable friendship with each needing the other for emotional support and a different perspective on life, however the idea that Tom, a teacher, would be so seemingly calm about the unfolding situation never quite rings true.
Oddly uneven, there are some real moments of drama but the flat pace and clunky scene changes hinder the overall tension of the piece. Occasionally riveting, Spiral is an intense watch that but thankfully not entirely bleak and gritty.
Reviewer: Amy Yorston