Monday, 17 November 2008
Voiceless (Reading), The Royal Court, 11 Nov 2008
It's sell-out season for the Arab plays readings in the Royal Court Upstairs, which meant I could only get into one of the performances. A bit dissapointing, because I really liked the first one and would have loved to see more.
Voiceless works essentially because of its charismatic lead character read with charismatic detatchment by Justin Salinger, who had already impressed us in the reading of "Owners". Salinger is that rare breed of actor (like Steven Mackintosh or John Simm) that never gives the impression of being "acting" but rather convinces us that we are in the presence of a whole different human being each time, a complete person and not an actor playing a character. Salinger carried the weight of the story and he did it flawlessly, in a low-key, quiet manner. We have decided to add him to the "actors we love" category.
The young writer from Jordan, Amani Zawawi, surely knows how to put on an enjoyable play. There are minor problems with some of her material - at bits it felt too clichéd, at times too naive - and we are not sure how the Mystery Man figure would work, had we seen it in a proper production. But the friendship between the lead Felix and the curious little girl she has for neighbour and the almost fable-like tone of the whole thing is very nicely drawn and we are convinced this would be a cult hit were it produced here in UK. One leaves the experience strangely uplifted despite the sombre overtones of the ending.
After the Caryl Churchill readings, the LATER season at Trafalgar, IGNITION at the Actors Centre and these arab theatre readings we have fallen in love with the whole concept of going to see a reading. One wishes many were actual productions but on the bright side you get to see fantastic actors for only a few quid.
Play is dead! Long live the reading!