It’s a warm afternoon as summer tips into autumn. A family of three stretch out on sun-loungers, sipping white wine and individually immersed in a glossy magazine, a paperback and a smart-phone/ Ayckbourn territory, perhaps? Or something darker? Pinter, for instance?
But the play’s title – The Chosen Ones – gives you a clue. Philip Gladwin has written a drama about retribution, about the avenging Nemesis (that dark goddess from classical mythology). She takes the shape of Callum, who materialises into the garden and the trio’s comfortable world with the pent-up furies of the past and the shattering of everyone’ futures in his rucksack.
The production company for this taut psychological chiller-thriller is new to me; Chesterfield-based Talking Scarlet. Patric Kearns’s direction is fast-moving – which occasionally leads to too-fast speaking on the part of his actors – with a simple but effective setting by Claire Booth – a white picket fence, a green floor-cloth, a couple of branches overhead and the whole enclosed by pitch-black tabs.
Radiating menace from his first appearance, Ben Freeman dominates as Callum, the hitherto unacknowledged son of businessman Greg (Stephen Beckett). Greg, just like his two legitimate children Ben (Griffin Stevens) and Anna (Jennifer Biddall), has to face up to the choices he has made in the past as well as those which will determine the future, or lack of it.
It’s a weakness in the characterisation of all four of these people that their nastier traits are so much to the fore throughout that it’s difficult to emphasise with their subsequent dilemmas. But you can’t fault the commitment of the cast and the thoroughness of their characterisations, from the low-key beginning through to the abyss-poised ending.