V+15

Jo Sutherland
Nevertheless Theatre Company
The Vaults (cavern) Leake Street
to

Jo Sutherland’s thriller V+15, set in an unspecified future, is a provocative take on the contemporary clash of militant atheism and religious zealots. Things seem to have taken a turn for the worst in this future UK where the Brotherhood are in control, banning books and punishing anyone caught with something by Salman Rushdie.

A former dissident political speaker, Vincent (Gianbruno Spena), is meeting up with Alina (Sanita Plowman), a potential whistleblower, who has documentary evidence of the Brotherhood’s abuse of women, or as the pair tend to refer to them “the assets”. She wants him to use the material in a statement to stir up protest.

As they drink wine and discuss snippets of the statement, they are anxious and worried about surveillance or a knock on the door from the authorities. But it's difficult to see what’s at stake, which makes their panic and nervousness seem a little unreal. The second half delivers some plot twists worthy of any good thriller, but also doesn't engage us any more on the issues.

The play shares the general pessimism of this period, so don’t be surprised if you come away thinking both the militant atheists and the religious zealots are as bad as each other without actually getting much idea of what it is they are clashing about. It may rattle along like a conventional thriller, but it lacks connection to the world and that undermines the way we might care about what happens or the believability of the characters.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna