Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court
2nd November 2010
Jim Hutchon was at the first night ...
Director Danny Segeth has taken the very daring step of reworking a Max Frisch play about the abstracts of evil and innocence into a highly-focussed polemic on the very public revelations over the abuse of youngsters in the care of the Catholic Church. And, with his co-director Kelly McGibney, has created an entrancing, powerful and absorbing piece of theatre.
At a time when churches are being burned down around the town, a priest, played with a mixture of innocence and complacency by Chris Piper, is effectively powerless against an evil couple who insinuate themselves into his house and even import petrol and detonator into his attic. First, the sly Jo, played with a real flair for injured innocence by Vikki Pead, then the quietly menacing Eisenring (a peerless performance by Joe Kennedy), slowly unfold the story of his abuse as a child, drawing in the allegations of the priest’s complicity in another’s abuse and suicide.
Peter Nerreter is convincing as the priest’s colleague arguing against appeasement. He is also shown to be culpable, not for his active abuse, but for standing by. The housekeeper confused by her master’s inability to eject the interlopers is Laura Hill. A superb, highly-stylised ‘Greek Chorus’ of firefighters, Steve Parr, Leanne Johnson and Sarah Chandler led the general indictments, and also acted superbly as scene shifters, shifting not the scene, but the players.
The very atmospheric and well synchronised live music accompaniment was composed by Mike McGibney and David Woolford, and the latter also performed it. The set is basically a fire ravaged interior, complete with smoke and ragged bits hanging from the ceiling, but the production, in the round, used an effective lighting scheme to bring that and other scenes into play.