Dare you say please
King's Head Theatre
Aimee Varani and Mia Young
Two strangers get to know each other before they are forced to make the ultimate decision: Which one of them will live beyond this room? How will they decide? Will the connection they find influence their decision?
First published on Everything Theatre
In an overpopulated society where everyone is subjected to a judgement at the age of 25, Maria (Nancy Farino) and Oscar (Leon Finnan) are put into a room to discuss which one of them should be allowed to live. Given Maria’s reserved nature alongside Oscar’s eccentric personality and experience of the judgement system, the topics of conversation are largely led by Oscar.
Oscar lays the groundwork for the audience early on. He argues that instead of any two nominees trying to understand each other and collectively make an informed decision as to who deserves to live, people go into the room perceiving themselves as being against the opposition, and will merely put their best case forward to avoid death. He highlights the flaw in the system: understanding each other’s views and opinions is difficult, if not impossible, when lives are literally on the line. Similarly, people would try to be good before the judgement in order to put themselves in the most favourable position. The question is, are the good deeds meaningful if the intention is corrupt, and do they negate the bad things committed if one survives the judgement? These are millennia old dilemmas debated by countless philosophers even to the present day. Given the complexity of these issues, Aimee Varani’s writing is constructed clearly, and they are appropriately delivered by the actors.
Some elements of the script could be improved. A number of themes such as jobs and interests are covered toward the beginning, and these then resurface throughout the play. However, the timing with which they emerge feels random and they appear to end certain conversations too abruptly. While it is understood that the characters may use these to break the awkwardness, or as a means to change topic, it would be preferable to use them sparingly in order to improve the flow of discussions. Certainly, the building blocks to the story need to be in place for the final confrontation between the two characters, but the first half of the show is slow paced. It might benefit from an earlier, smaller scale heated discussion to maintain the audience’s level of interest.
Blocking is not ideal here. The actors often find themselves in a position where they directly face each other, their backs to some of the audience. While this is fine for the most part, there are times when the lines are a little difficult to hear for the audience behind them.
The discussion of human goodness, intentions and indeed if anyone is truly innocent in a philosophical sense, is a plot that has been dramatised time and again. While there are no major flaws, this production is another one that follows this trend and it would benefit from a clearer self-identify to distinguish itself from others that have used a similar formula.