Further Than the Furthest Thing (4 stars)

Haunting, beautifully-designed production of Zinnie Harris' play

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Further Than the Furthest Thing

From ripping out the seating for a powerful in-the-round production of Peter Shaffer’s Equus to the Mad Men-style two-storey 1950s maisonette of A Doll’s House, Dundee Rep has often impressed with its bold, imaginative use of design. The company’s latest outing, a production of Zinnie Harris’ first full-length play, and artistic director James Brining’s swansong for the Rep, employs some 29,000 litres of water to create a visual backdrop that is as striking as it is simple. The usual wide stage is gone, replaced by an apron of water, whose serene ripples are reflected on a huge projection facing the audience.

This staging, created by Neil Warmington in collaboration with water consultant Elizabeth Ogilvie, achieves a beautiful counterpoint to the lyrical poetry of Harris’ play, which is set among the black sands and seabirds of a remote island in the south Atlantic, loosely modelled on lonely Tristan da Cunha. The expansive natural environment of the first half contrasts nicely with the claustrophobia of Act Two, by which time the local volcano has erupted and the island’s residents have been evacuated to a nightmarish, industrial ‘Hengland’ where community leader Bill (Angus Peter Campbell) goes to work in the boiler room of a glass factory while his wife Mill (Ann Louise Ross) finds herself confined to a deckchair in their tiny garden, fretting about the fate of home.

Harris’ play is the very definition of a slow burn, starting with a gently amusing domestic scene and gradually raising and exploring some important questions about belonging, our relationship with our environment and the thorny business of integration. Brining’s haunting production powerfully ramps up the tension, employing increasingly distorted layers of sound to convey the despair experienced by the islanders in their new habitat. Ross is outstanding as the embodiment of the island’s ostensibly naïve values, while Kevin Lennon also gives a strong, moving performance as young Francis, torn between the old life and his embrace of the new possibilities offered by technology.

- Further Than the Furthest Thing, Dundee Rep, until Sat 5 May.

Further Than The Furthest Thing - Introduction with James Brining

Further Than the Furthest Thing

An intriguing play about the inhabitants of an isolated island whose peaceful life is shattered when an apparently dormant volcano erupts and they find themselves thrust into a new, technologically-advanced environment.

Onstage

Inspired by the current production of Further Than the Furthest Thing, local pupils perform short pieces of theatre to showcase young talent of the area.

Comments

1. A.F-A2 May 2012, 12:36pm Report

This is a clever play, with strong actors, and an elaborate set, moving images and sound. But the production did not hang together. The compelling narrative did build momentum, and there were some scenes of intense dramatic impact but these were separated by other periods when I was merely distracted by drips and sloshing water, crunching gravel or story elements that were too direct, even simple.
I want to see another production of this play without the complication of the water filled stage and after the authoress has cut some 15 minutes from each act. I want to see more Zinnie Harris work.
The reviewer, in the review above, was wowed by the quantity of water into giving the play one too many stars for this production.

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