Review: More Light
GEORGE JOHNSTON: This production ‘fails to maintain the sufficient degree of pace and intensity that is necessary to the rather gruesome story line’.
More Light is certainly a conceptually intriguing play. An Emperor (presumably Aztec or something like that) is buried in a huge tomb underneath a large hill when he dies. The tomb is sealed and the Emperor’s harem of beautiful women are trapped inside the ‘inner gate’ in order that they remain beside his dead body forever. In order to survive the women begin eating whatever food they can find, which turns out to be their former Emperor’s dead body – including his supposedly ‘cheesy’ phallus.
‘More Light’, played by Steph Brooks, does a good job as a narrator at the opening of the play, setting the scene well and sending a few shivers done audience member’s spines as she speaks through the dry ice that fills the stage. The rest of the piece is clearly well-rehearsed (the pauses due to poorly learned lines that are so common in student theatre were notably absent here) and acted with both effort and commitment. However, it fails to maintain the sufficient degree of pace and intensity that is necessary to the rather gruesome story line.
Puppets are used as shaky substitutes for younger girls that were also part of the harem. Exactly what the puppets were meant to represent was only clear, to me at least, after half an hour or so of them appearing on stage, and consultation with the programme. The puppetry itself was weak, primarily because of a lack of any way for the actors to manipulate the dolls short of grapping their necks. It also lacked believability because the actors continued acting their characters when they were animating the puppets, which meant the audience’s attention was drawn to the actors instead of the dolls.
Obiesie Maguegbuna is certainly physically impressive as the Convict and gives the part an attention grapping intensity. However, especially during his scenes with More Light there was a lack of threat and tension. The weapons used looked tacky which didn’t help, but when they were handled by characters on stage it could have been clearer that these were swords that been, and would be, used to kill people.
My plus-one would unhesitatingly say that this is a play worth seeing- on the other hand, he is perhaps biased by the fact he wants to write his dissertation on Byrony Lavery. Though the play is certainly interesting and intriguing, I wouldn’t commend it quite so highly.