Sunday, November 09, 2008

"Zero" - November 2008

Theatre Absolute & Warwick Arts Centre have come together to bring "Zero" by Chris O'Connell to the Citizens Circle Studio. Set in 2028 it takes place in Camp Zero - a detention centre for the interrogation of 'The Others' - perceived threats to the Global Economic Alliance. While the play does ask us to consider the ethical implications of torture, its real core is the impact that witnessing it has on camp translator Alex.

O'Connell's decision to move the setting on from the present day is a clever one. There is nothing here that could be called futuristic and the issues are very much of the present. But he enables us to jettison the baggage of our current conflicts and the simplicity of the fictional conflict provides little distraction.

As Alex, Stephen Hudson delivers a phenomenal performance as we see him deteriorate from someone very much in control to a man on the brink. Not an uncommon event in theatre, but what makes his performance so extraordinary is that O'Connell's script and Matt Aston's direction calls for scenes in different timeframes to be quickly intercut. Daniel Hoffman-Gill as army grunt Tom also handles the demands of the script well, although the character's journey is perhaps not so far as Alex's. It's largely the relationship between these two characters and the performances of the two actors that make the play work so well.

O'Connell's use of language is impressive including powerful moments when detainees are read their non-rights. There are also a number of effective set piece moments in here - particularly the DVD messages home and the impressively portrayed scenes where Demissie (Damian Lynch) is interrogated. But there are other aspects that didn't quite work for me such as the relationship between interrogator Helen and the commander (despite good performances from Kate Ambler & Adeel Akhtar).

As an 'issue' play it doesn't attempt to offer any answers, or even ask any new questions, but as a character study this is a forceful piece of theatre.

Zero has finished it's run at the Citz but moves on to the Tristan Bates Theatre in London from 11th to 29th November
Image by Andrew Moore used with permission

1 Heckle

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Hello there!

My name's Daniel and I play Tom and I stumbled upon this...okay I was googling myself but what the hell.

Thanks for intelligent and well-put review.

Glasgow was lovely.