Walking into the Park Theatre for Robert Schenkkan's new play, 'Building the Wall' feels as if you've taken a wrong turning and have ended up somewhere very different to everyday life. Fluorescent lights buzz and there are sounds of locks clicking. The most arresting sight is a huge glass box filling the entire stage. Inside, a lone man in penitential orange sits tapping his socked feet.
Building The Wall is a gripping political thriller that examines a dystopian future. One that, according to director Jez Bond, feels “horribly possible.” And indeed it does from the outset. Schenkkan has presented the audience with a play that explores the issues surrounding immigration in America and nothing that Rick, the prisoner being interviewed, shares with his interviewer Gloria, is any more outlandish or brutal than some of the current political sentiments.
When the action started, the house lights dimmed, but only slightly. Being able to see the audience clearly throughout this 90 minute play only amplified the sense of voyeurism. We were all watching and listening to something that we should not be able to see or hear. And with no interval, there is literally no escape from this captivating piece.
Trevor White portrays Rick with an amazing gentleness and humility although there are flashes of real anger and frustration. As the play begins he is struggling to trust but as Gloria (played brilliantly by Angela Griffin) talks things being to shift. Both Griffin and White’s portrayals are utterly convincing and for every second of the 90 minutes I truly felt as if I was eavesdropping. They were locked in to their dialogue and it flowed effortlessly. The relationship that appears in the box is mesmerising, no more so than when Rick is given a small orange to eat.
In the current political climate, this play is an absolute must. A masterful piece of theatre that leaves the audience thinking and worrying.
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