Written by German playwright Marius von Mayenburg, Fireface receives a London revival at the directorial hand of Sam Pritchard, who won this year's James Menzies-Kitchin Young Director Award for up-and-coming theatre-makers.
The twisted action revolves around a German family with two troubled teens and two parents seemingly wilfully oblivious to the trials, tribulations and crimes of their offspring. The tale is a dark one of loss of innocence, defiance and destruction.
Morbid sister Olga (Aimée-Ffion Edwards) is a on a voyage of sexual discovery which she isn’t shy of sharing with her brother Kurt (Rupert Simonian). When she starts dating motorbike-riding youth Paul (William Postlethwaite), jealous Kurt develops his explosive hobby and things really start to unravel.
Edwards really shines as Olga, bringing to the role a fascinating mix of hard-headedness and vulnerability. Simonian’s Kurt doesn’t quite feel outwardly angry enough for the deeds he commits, although the simmering mass of pent-up hormones is clear to see. Postlethwaite, David Annen (Father) and Helen Schelsinger (Mother) are all convincing in their roles, but this piece belongs to the two youngest leads.
The set is simple and feels like a sparsely decorated ‘how to live in 30 sq m’ showroom at IKEA. From the moment you enter the room and hear a gradually loudening heartbeat you sense that things won’t end well for the ill-at-ease characters sitting awkwardly on chairs in four corners of the stage.
There are some interesting staging choices, with the four chairs and surrounding cabinets frequently used to delineate areas of the playing space. The actors often stare straight out over the audience, even when in scenes together.
As intriguing as the story and the staging are, however, it feels like this production could use a few tweaks to reach its full tense, dramatic potential.