Twenty-somethings Rob and Sarah are neighbours. But both never venture outside their respective flats as they're haunted by past experiences – in Rob's case a failed relationship and a stint as an army cook, in Sarah's an adolescent awakening gone wrong.
Devised by the company from an original concept by cast members Tom McCall and Nick Blood, Inches Apart is the winner of this year's Old Vic New Voices Theatre 503 Award, and is performed by a young and promising ensemble ably marshalled by director Rachel Briscoe.
The highlight is the slick and subtle physical work, and though a few tricks are slightly overcooked – the quoting of classic film lines as Sarah's browsing her DVD collection being an example – these fail to dampen an overall impression that this is a well-trained company with enormous potential.
Dialogue is intermittent, and when it comes tends to be overly-expositional and struggles to match the emotional impact of the movement work. Rob's back-story is unnecessarily convoluted whereas Sarah's doesn't seem to provide adequate motivation for her current agoraphobia (can we really believe she refuses to leave her flat on the basis of one bad adolescent experience?).
However, these grumblings aside, this is a promising and neatly designed production featuring strong performances from Tom McCall and Sophie Steer as the flat-bound duo aided by strong support from Nick Blood, Alex Gatehouse, Michael Malarkey, Adam Slynn and Sara Templeman. And it perfectly captures the inevitable isolation that's caused by a society in which regular human contact is no longer a necessity.
- Theo Bosanquet