Review: Contractions at New Diorama Theatre ***

Review: Contractions at New Diorama Theatre ***

Kate Murray reviews Deafinitely Theatre's production of Mike Bartlett's play

There’s something immediately satisfying about Deafinitely Theatre’s choice of space for the company’s production, Contractions.

Win a pair of tickets to see Contractions, plus dinner for two at The Grafton!

From the pen of BBC’s Doctor Foster writer Mike Bartlett, Contractions is performed in the centre of an office atrium, situated a short walk from the theatre.

Deafinitely Theatre’s first site specific performance takes place in the disused trading floor of 1 Triton Square and undoubtedly propels the production into becoming an immersive and oppressive theatrical experience.

Directed by the Jewish founder of Deafinitely Theatre, Paula Garfield, a cast of two tells the story of the relationship between The Manager, played with menacing relish by Fifi Garfield and employee Emma, performed by Abigail Poulton.

The set, an office within a real office, instantly establishes an eerie closeness to its characters.

There is a dystopian omnipresence in The Manager, who makes the audience also feel like an employee, as she exerts her control in stopping Emma from having any form of relationship with her colleagues.

There is also a heightened feeling of tension and being trapped.

Fifi Garfield plays The Manager in Contractions. Photo: Becky Bailey

Mike Bartlett’s themes are relatable, but scary, reaffirming the struggle we have with our work-life balance.

Deafinitely Theatre, the UK’s only deaf-led theatre company enhances this claustrophobic narrative by its use of language.

Director Garfield enlists Emma’s use of English as a theatrical devise to translate The Manager’s signing, making it inclusive for both deaf and a hearing audience without patronising either.

Garfield’s strong direction carries the play, as does her use of lights to punctuate scene changes, projection and props to articulate key moments and body movement to express feeling.

Collectively they provide a seamless move through the narrative, often funny with absurdist moments and all the while building the tension into a somewhat inevitable and dark conclusion.

Deafinitely Theatre’s Contractions continues at New Diorama Theatre until Wednesday, 29 November. Details:

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