Stage Write Productions
It is not easy to work out what writer/director Nick Card is trying to achieve with Strangers. The opening of the play suggests it is intended as a modern morality tale, even a dark comedy, but by the end it has turned into a tale of reconciliation.
Jess (Emily Browne) is down on her luck and out of options; desperate to avoid eviction, she considers selling her body to raise the necessary funds. Gary (Steve Schollar) sees himself as a decent bloke and tries to offer Jess advice and comfort and, as a result, ends up receiving a morally dubious offer he finds hard to refuse.
The premise of Strangers is potentially fascinating. The audience could be asked to consider how far they would go if forced by poverty or whether they would be capable of taking advantage of someone in a desperate situation. It is also relevant as urban legends about people trading sexual favours in exchange for accommodation have increased since the COVID crisis began.
However, the story is told in a pedestrian manner. Telling a story with a twist in the tale requires the clues setting up the revelation to be concealed so the plot development is a surprise at the right moment. However, Nick Card has little skill with dialogue which is basic and just moves the story along. As a result, rather than being hidden, the clues stick out and can be spotted when a character makes an unusual remark thus giving the game away.
The camerawork and filming are unusual. The film is in black and white and, initially, one wondered if this was intended to emulate the great romantic films of the classic screen. Actually, it turns out to be setting the scene for a moment of redemption and reconciliation. Unusually, Card films the cast at an unflattering angle looking upwards rather than direct so that in the opening scenes the viewer is not so much a fly on the wall as a drink on a table.
Strangers is a potentially interesting play but is not well realised.
Reviewer: David Cunningham