The plot of Our Shadows Walk, a new play at London's Etcetera
theatre, sounds intriguing enough.
The action is set in a 1984-esque dystopia where people can be accused
of high treason and eliminated on mere suspicion. It's a world that
bears an uncomfortable resemblance Britain today with mass
surveillance and "the war on terror".
But Danny Pegg's latest production, which claims to focus on this
narrative, falls down on just that point, and this short play plods
along without ever really developing its Orwellian premise.
It opens with Terrence, played by Denis Barazi, and Goldsmith, played
by Anna McCormick, pledging their allegiance to one another and to the
government. Their vows are made on a dark and simple set effectively
representing a world in which there is little to hope for and much to
As the drama unfolds it becomes clear that the government inquisitors
have as much to be afraid of as the hapless 'accused terrorist' they
are interrogating. Indeed, the play's best feature is, perhaps, its
exposition of the multiple layers of sheer terror of life in the near
future where the hunters themselves become the hunted.
However neither the plot nor the script of the play quite match up to
the power of its dramatic ideas. It does sometimes feel as if the
playwright is endlessly repeating the same point. But, perhaps we need
many such forceful reminders of Orwell's vision of a totalitarian
There are sections of the play where the plot is difficult to follow
and the characters remain rather characterless, so that it hard to
feel much sympathy for them in their downfall.
McCormick and Barazi perform their roles with vigour and the drama
does become more compelling when they are onstage together. McCormick
deserves particular praise for her performance and she has a strong
and magnetic stage presence.
The play is billed as a drama with black humour, but most of the
comedy was unfortunately lost on the audience, and during the
performance there was little laughter. So in this respect too Pegg's
play ultimately fails in what it sets out to do, which is a shame
because it does voice a powerful and compelling warning about a world
which may be just around the corner or in which we might already be