It was weird, it was sexy, it was wrong. ‘The Incomers’ at The Bike Shed Theatre, directed by Paul Jepson, wasn’t your stereotypical suburban wife-swapping farce, but a disturbing, dynamic re-working of an old cliché. A swinging Surbiton dinner party in the heart of Cornwall: awkward, out of place, but in a highly watch-able way.
Playwright Murray Lachlan Young’s choice of topic is not original, however it is explored with such intelligence, and so engagingly, so as not to mask the entire script in cliché. This show was not just about swinging and sexual promiscuity (although there is a lot of that sort of hanky panky oo-err-missus business); it’s about city modernism and development, drugs, capitalism and exploitation versus a dream scape of idealised ruralism and traditional values, family and cultural heritage.
Lachlan Young’s poetic language is beautifully emotive, even with the generous use of profanities, and evoked a barely reigned in sexual tension, and was delightfully disturbing.
‘The Incomers’ was a case study in technical mastery, with a highly complimentary sound-track and lighting washes, both highly stylised. The use of black lighting (UV) made some of the action a little indiscernible at times, but this wasn’t enough to marr the overall effect.
Dramaturgically the show was excellent, intelligently staged so the action made use of the entire acting space; the actors exercised excellent physical control as their characters’ began to unravel morally, mentally and sexually. There were really strong performances from all of the cast, but particularly engaging was Jerome Wright’s physically funny and horrifying portrayal of the ambivalent Zak, and his dynamic with the distraught, charismatic and emotionally charged Celia (played by Mary Woodvine). Rory Wilton gave a great deal of life to the idealistic, almost teenage mentality of Gordon, a proverbial Ostrich,* trying to remain optimistic and philosophical in the face of undeniable truth, Wilton’s performance gave gravity to Gordon’s crumbling idealism.
The production as a whole is imbued with a very strong sense of identity, and is entirely worthy of the positive press it has received thus far. A five star show, and an absolute must-see if you get the chance.
*head in the sand.