Friday 3rd August 2018 at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Camden.
Faded Ink’s new play In the Wake Of by Michael Black is a gritty look at modern relationships and what holds them together or tears them apart. It’s also an exploration of what we’d do for one another and what we’d do to save our own skin; a study of selfishness and selflessness within a potent combination of strong characters. Directed by Matt Strachan, the revelations of In the Wake Of are well placed and skilfully drawn out by the four-strong cast who take the audience on a very bumpy journey down dark memory lanes.
We begin with a likeable bickering couple going about their morning – one heads off to work and the other gets a knock at the door as a blast from the past arrives. This play would do well with a fairly talented cast, but with a cast like this, it’s full of real tension, high emotion and explosive scenes of confrontation alongside unexpected and more moving moments. Writer Michael Black doubles as Jimmy – a conflicted soul struggling to find purpose in his new circumstances. It’s a rude awakening for him to discover how his pal Rob (Mickey Mason) has blossomed without him over the years, so he now has to make a new plan. Increasingly volatile, Jimmy is an intimidating force on the stage and Black’s impressive, charged performance makes us truly contemplate what it would feel like to be held hostage – either physically or emotionally.
Mason’s Rob is also conflicted – a typical young guy in a relatively new relationship, he’s pretty content and happy to begin the process of settling down. But Rob has secrets and they’re poking out of the woodwork ready to cause chaos… Rachel Morris is Chelsea, the most innocent of the bunch, but as with all of Black’s characters, she too is capable of more than she could have ever imagined – and there’s a well-played lingering question mark hovering over some of Chelsea’s claims. Morris handles some of the most difficult, complex and emotive scenes of the play with great feeling and a compelling characterisation of a woman caught up in a turmoil of someone else’s creation, giving a particularly strong performance in the closing scene. Simon Morgan delivers one of the most surprising scenes of the play as Razza – a quirky character who inspires laughs with a high-strung voice and personality to match, he soon offers a couple of unforeseen revelations of his own to turn tables and show the audience once again that no character in this play can be taken at face value.
In the Wake Of is a thoroughly engaging new work which delights in surprising and challenging an audience, inviting them to question their own capabilities, the decisions they might make in some of the situations depicted here. There are a couple of slightly predictable moments and a distracting Jack-in-the-Box element to Chelsea’s arrivals into scenes at times, but this is a gripping production with well crafted characters and an accomplished cast – catch it if you can.
In the Wake Of plays at The Lion and Unicorn until August 7th 2018 and you can find tickets here.