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When It Clicks

Devised by the Company
Golden Sock Theatre Company
Little Man Coffee Company

Golden Sock is one of a number of small companies currently operating which have been formed by students and graduates of the entrepreneurialism-oriented University of South Wales. When It Clicks, presented, in the first instance, for one night only, is a piece which makes the most of the company’s multi-nationalism.

The play is inspired by the potentially theatrically fertile concept of Stockholm Syndrome, in which a kidnap victim comes to identify with his or her captors (Patty Hearst being a classic example from the 1970s).

Thus, in the somewhat appropriate venue of the basement of a city-centre café, we find ourselves thrust into an abduction scenario. A, played by Alex Granville, is standing watch over B, Olivija Arlauskaite. Both are clad entirely in black, except for the red ribbon which binds the tearful B’s hands together.

A is hostile and verbally abusive. B quickly seems to regain her composure and initially refuses to speak to him in English, using only Lithuanian. When A tells B to record a reassuring message to her parents on his phone, she seems to comply; the translate function, though, confirms that she is being offensively uncooperative.

It soon becomes clear that the motivation for the abduction is not sexual. A refers to his family’s suffering and blames it on the wealthy B and her “kind”; thus it could be applicable to any number of real-life political struggles where the notion of individual vengeance comes into play (Palestine, The Balkans, Rwanda etc).

Under the direction of Sophia Karpaty, the tension is palpable. Granville is not a physically intimidating presence, but ably conveys A’s apparently righteous indignation. Arlauskaite’s B comes across as the archetypal spoilt rich girl, who, despite the insults, physical manhandling and near-starvation she endures (being fed only bread and water), soon comes to realise that A is no real threat.

Inevitably, there is a reverse, which is where the play falls down. The piece has been devised by actors, thus the fractiousness inherent in the basic situation is convincingly depicted. And language is cleverly used to symbolise the evolution within the power dynamic—as A’s position weakens, he speaks increasingly in Welsh.

A huge opportunity is missed, however, by presenting the changing relationship between captor and captive essentially as a virtual fait-accompli, without in any way dramatising the process by which it comes about. Thus the ending, after about half an hour, is abrupt, and the resolution unsatisfying.

When It Clicks is a promising piece, well acted and slickly presented. The failure to dig deep, however, means that it seems somewhat incomplete.

Othniel Smith