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Out of Dead Air (24:7 Festival)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Pure:Round, Manchester

The venue for Out of Dead Air, a nightclub, is wholly unsuitable for this type of performance. Although the club lights are used to maximum effect to enhance the atmosphere of the play, the air conditioning blares out at such a noise that the actors require amplification, which is appalling for such a small scale play. As a result a lot of the diction ends up muffled and bits of the script end up lost. However, this only one gripe with a short play that it actually very intense, dramatic and well performed.

The action revolves around three prisoners of war who are locked up in a dark cell with no idea of time and place, and forced to enter a routine monotonous and futile tasks. The situation they are in affects each character differently.

Mike, played by Banji Ojo, is a realist and appears to be the least affected by their ordeal. He is encourages the others to think freely and yearn for a return to the lives they once knew. Lenny, an exceptionally detailed and committed performance from Lewis Marsh, appears to have been affected by his imprisonment more deeply than his fellow inmates and as the story progresses it becomes clear that he is deeply and desperately damaged.

Al (Mark Butt) is a prisoner with a slightly superior role than the other two and has become full of self importance to the point that he is extremely patronising but comfortable in his routine. Whilst it’s difficult to imagine Butt as a fighting soldier, he plays the incarcerated soldier well and it’s hard not to sympathise with the unenviable decision he is left with at the conclusion.

Performed on a basic black set Jo Tucker’s lighting design and Sam Tucker’s sound are both vital elements of the piece, which is confidently directed by Mike Heath.

Writer Mark Murphy clearly has talent having created an intense piece of theatre with well rounded characters that it’s easy to really care about. It deserves a better performance venue.

- Malcolm Wallace


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