Indelible Acts

Fantastic writing, expert execution: CHLOE COLEMAN and LEYLA HAMID are indelibly impressed by a “practically flawless” evening.

chloe coleman Indelible Acts Jamie Hansen leyla hamid tom powell

Pembroke New Cellars, 6th-10th November, 9.30pm, £5/6

Dir. Tom Powell

It’s ambitious to call something indelible. Having picked up a programme promising ‘madcap revelry, outrageous wit, sombre thought and explosive confrontation’, we wondered how such a miscellany of dramatic feats could possibly coalesce. But we have to hand it to them: the Pembroke Players pull it off with style.

The first of the three short plays opens with an arresting monologue from Peter (Jack Gamble). Staring into the darkened room, Gamble manages both to entertain with his dry humour and unsettle with his expertly executed awkwardness. When we learn he’s writing a eulogy for his dead best friend, however, the comedy soon evaporates. From a genius mix of triviality and sombre philosophical comment, the play descends into a highly charged dispute with estranged friend Tony (Jamie Hansen), in which we are forced to question the true motives of friendship.

This sets the tone perfectly for play number two, which transports us across the Atlantic – seamlessly, thanks to impressive accents from Justin Wells and Fiona Stainer – to America. Impressively original, this piece focusses on the human face of economic depression; a pertinent theme on the eve of the US election. We’re presented with two bankers from two eras with one problem, and it’s a thought-provoking exploration of the real and human consequences of a potentially cold, contentious issue. Stylistically, this piece is flawless; its skilfully interwoven dialogues realised by superb acting. It’s the dark side of the American dream, which the audience knows all too well.

The third play brings us back to student life, complete with the all too familiar sight of drunken teenage ‘trolleying’. Injecting what seems like harmless fun into an atmosphere that promises to darken, we’re given an insight into the intoxicated mind. In fact, we know just about as much as the intoxicated characters themselves: it’s a struggle to make sense of what’s going on. The confusion – coupled with the disturbing presence of the homeless Volrath (Katie Polglase) – is unsettling. Abstruse in its ambiguity, this play verges on try-hard. Against the backdrop of the previous plays’ subtlety, this third offering seemed a little too conscious of being ‘alternative’.

Overall, however, this trio of student-written plays makes for an unforgettable and thought-provoking evening. Fantastically written and perfectly executed, these plays are practically flawless.