Reviews Plymouth Published 11 November 2014

Another Place

Theatre Royal Plymouth ⋄ 6th - 22nd November 2014

The spaces we hold within us.

Belinda Dillon

On the beach at Crosby, in the company of one of Antony Gormley’s barnacle-covered figures, old friends Paul (Rob Heaps) and Daniel (Robert Lonsdale) share a last afternoon together. Amid the banter and the beers, something’s not right, and it’s more than new dad Daniel’s struggling relationship with girlfriend Beth. London is already underwater; give it 20 years, this place will be too. So tomorrow Paul is moving across the world to work on a 20-year project to send a carefully selected crew of specialists on a mission to Mars. Just as Gormley’s sculpture faces down the inevitable tide, so Paul and Daniel confront the likely end of their friendship. But do the occasional crackles and hums – the static interruptions that dim the lights – mean that their situation is already more fragile than they think?
DC Moore’s taut new play certainly isn’t afraid to tackle the big stuff: the immensity of space, the enormity of earth’s precarious situation and the vast potential of the brain’s imaginative capacity. While the first part points to the human drama at the heart of this philosophical sci-fi, it’s parts two and three that really bring the sinister undercurrents to the surface, suggesting that no matter how far we travel, what we can never escape is ourselves. No amount of carefully constructed safeguards or cognitive engineering can prevent our particular talent for interpersonal conflict, it seems.
Through metallic-effect walls, strip lighting and clean lines, Garance Marneur’s impressive set conjures interstellar exploration and our unstinting faith in scientific progress. The three scenes are performed within the space between two boxes, which gradually move closer together as the play progresses, until finally they combine to create a physical holding space for the climax. As the representation of the friendship between Daniel and Paul cuts to Amy’s (Leah Brotherhead) clinical interrogation of colleague Natalia (Anna Elijasz) then finally reveals the cost of humankind’s hubris, the walls close in, and time runs out; the language becomes more fractured, and the scenes get shorter before we’re plunged into darkness one last time.
But while Another Place is ambitious in scope, it feels somewhat under-developed, the hour-long running time too short to really explore the characters and what drives them. The dialogue zings with humour, intelligence and subtle subtext, the later speeches particularly imbued with a beautifully poetic lyricism, and yet the text seems overwhelmed by the set and the staging. It’s unclear what performing the piece in traverse adds to the narrative (other than to limit the view of some audience members as the boxes gradually move closer together), and various actions – the slamming down of metal chairs as they are positioned for the next scene, the placement of one character’s high heeled shoes – seem to be for aesthetic rather than dramatic purposes. 
At the moment, it’s a more satisfying read that it is a piece of theatre, and feels like a series of sketches outlining a much deeper, more ambitious work, one that really opens our minds to the complexity of the spaces we occupy in the world and the spaces we hold within us.


Belinda Dillon

Originally from London, Belinda is an editor and writer now living in Exeter. She goes to as much theatre as the day job will allow. When not sitting in the dark, or writing about sitting in the dark, she likes to drink wine, read 19th-century novels and practice taxidermy. Your cat is very beautiful. Is it old?

Another Place Show Info

Produced by Theatre Royal Plymouth

Directed by Jo McInnes

Written by D.C. Moore

Cast includes Leah Brotherhood, Anna Elijasz, Rob Heaps, Robert Lonsdale




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