I Think We Are Alone
- Gareth K Vile
- 20 February 2020
A strong assembly, but rarely frantic
Like Paul Thomas Anderson's film Magnolia, I Think We Are Alone weaves multiple subplots to examine human connection and the importance of compassion. While some of its stories are predictable and rote, it becomes an emotive, yet restrained meditation on how death and grief can oppress and liberate, with a gentle twist in one of the subplots that is a remarkable and moving moment of intelligent writing. With a dramaturgy that takes advantage of Morgan Large's design through a series of powerful visual images, and a charismatic central performance from Chizzy Akudolu, directors Kathy Burke and Scott Graham generate a production that slowly reveals the character's deeper motivations and fears beneath their surface anxieties.
Not all of the stories land: a student's decision to leave Cambridge University as he realises that it is his mother's ambition, not his own, that he follows is too obvious while the conflict between two sisters is too easily resolved through a single conversation. Yet the presentation of a mother's death, and the atmosphere of jittery positivity in the hospice, speak of a sensitive theatricality that enthuses the script with warmth and passion.
While the pace is measured and the atmosphere gentle, the most powerful images and exchanges are understated, subtly revealing shifts in the characters' understanding or relationship: the more ostentatiously dramatic reveals feel predictable and cliched. For a company known for their physicality, Frantic Assembly's change of pace suggests how nuanced and delicate characterisation can be a more immediate and bracing driver than the twists and turns of plot and action.
King's Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 22 Feb, and touring.