Living Picture's The Nest is an odd little play translated from Franz Xaver Kroetz's original German by David Schneider.
Almost Ibsen-esque in atmosphere, it is a tidy ‘theatre of the conscious’ set piece. Motif abounds but doesn't stretch the mind and allegory is overdone. The outcome is obvious from the start and there are no great surprises - unfortunately seemingly mundane for the most part. Perhaps it loses something in the translation.
Kurt (Robert Bowman) and Martha (Elizabeth Hurran) are an ordinary couple whose measure of self-worth is Kurt's income and the esteem in which his boss holds him.
Kurt is not Martha's dream man but he is 'good' because he works hard and provides for his family. He is a fine husband as 'a man has to get his income where he can' and he does. Soon they will be able to buy a new TV, and one day own a car. Meanwhile, there is sufficient overtime available to afford the best for their child.
But as the purse strings tighten with less and less overtime, Kurt is asked to dump some illegal liquids with disastrous but obvious results.
Despite sterling performances from Bowman and Hurran, who are most believable as the young couple, the play doesn’t gel and goes nowhere. There is a jarring as one attempts to place this in time - HGV licences, Lenor and nappy changing stations seem out of kilter with Martha's boast that Kurt will be impressed with her independence when she takes the baby to the lake alone, her tale of spilled inkwells and the ultimate aim of owning a car.
Simon Allen's random music grates, but the sound effects enhance the action and Soutra Gilmour's simple set works well while Emma Chapman's lighting is straightforward. However, the projected images used from time to time as backdrop add nothing to the play.
Bowman and Hurran move the play along with excellent mime and convincing characterisation but, when all said and done, this is not a momentous evening of entertainment.
- Karen Bussell (Reviewed at the Drum, Theatre Royal, Plymouth)