“Pomona” by Alistair McDowall
Nottingham New Theatre
Nottingham New Theatre
The play’s title refers to a mythic concrete island in the heart of Manchester and the action starts with a young girl, Ollie, in pursuit of her missing twin sister. Ollie is swiftly drawn into a completely surreal environment.
There’s a suggestion of secret worlds hidden deep within modern cities and hints at fantasy lands as depicted in the stuff that “Dungeons & Dragons” is made of, scratching the dark underbelly of the urban fantasy underworld.
This play is very difficult to describe, story wise. Thinking about it, I don't think any description of the play would do it justice because it's like a virtual jigsaw where all the pieces fall into place right at the end.
It's a very physical play which incorporates a certain amount of contemporary choreography, at times almost balletic in some moves.
McDowall is a young and talented playwright who has had great success with this play as well as other ambitious and exciting projects such as “Brilliant Adventures” and “X”. “Pomona” is just the modern style of play that the New Theatre do so well, especially with the core audience the theatre attract.
There’s explicit language, sexual situations and violence and the constant atmosphere of unsettling threat. This is made clear right from the word go where we see Ollie and Zeppo meeting for the first time. That air of danger hangs about throughout the play, which rightly so is performed straight through in a two hour block..
Having seen many plays here at Nottingham New Theatre over the last couple of years, I've seen all of the cast in other plays and roles so had an idea of the strength of this cast.
Michaela Green (Ollie), Niamh Caines (Fay), Charlotte Sanders (Gale), Kate O'Gorman (Keaton), Jamie Watt (Moe), Jonny Khan (Charlie) and Max Miller (Zeppo) all put in very passionate performances, which at times was quite shocking and emotive.
One scene where Moe was describing his violent past and now just wanting to touch another human left the audience in complete silence, but this was only a lead up to a very dark conclusion.
Another scene that really hit me was when Charlie was breaking down when he couldn't do away with one character and the relationship with Moe was wonderfully played out, again though leading to yet another dark ending.
The lack of any physical set wasn't even noticeable and wasn't even missed. The set that was used was utilised well and designed by Beth Wilson, nothing detracting from the complex storyline, only adding to the physicality of the play.
The lighting, designed by Sam Osborne, was so evocative, adding to the depressed and dangerous atmosphere, as was the subtle sound scape, designed by Joanne Blunt and Felicity Chilver.When it exploded into dramatic life, you knew it.
Directed by Maddy Strauss and produced by Grace Williams, assisted by Angharad Davis, the attention to detail was noted. the fight choreography was exciting and frightening, as was the stunt work co ordinated by Laura Wolczyk.
“Pomona” is at the Nottingham New Theatre on the University campus near Lakeside until Saturday 17 June 2017.