Innocent infidelity at the New Theatre was nothing short of sheer brilliance and innovation. The New Theatre cast brought to life an original script written by Director C.J. Wilmann. Influenced by the poignant melodic tones of Robert Browning’s Porphyria’s Lover, the play tells a tale of how an obsession with the past can have an extremely damaging effect on one’s vision of reality. Throughout the play there is an intriguing juxtaposition between fantasy and reality. On the one hand we see an apparently normal domestic setting and on the other a harsh dark corner of repression and regret. The audience is repeatedly drawn into the dark atmosphere and this hauntingly evocative setting is intensified by the rich musical tones of the solo violin which stands illuminated and elevated on stage.
The protagonist Reginald is exceptionally portrayed by Jack Finger as a tortured soul. Confined by his lacklustre marriage, Reginald envisions his ideal woman, Julia played by Alice Ratcliffe. The audience at the outset lacks empathy for the main character; however this is realised at the climactic end to the play; which sees the protagonist absolved of any guilt that may have been attributed to him. Reginald’s soliloquys along with the interjections by the character Lyle are brilliant and timely. This is a technique by which Wilmann introduces comic relief to the more intense parts of the play.
The focal point of the play is embodied by the red door which serves as a bridge between the two realities. The surrealist mixture of fact and fantasy are constantly at odds throughout the play. The projection of light as well as the use of darkness heightens the dramatic moments, a tool in which Wilmann effortlessly harnesses. The actors gave a sterling performance and the execution of the character Reginald played by Finger is worthy of high praise. Of equal praise is the portrayal of the masochistic Machiavellian character embodied in the cold calculating personality of Hilary, which was brought to a climax at the revelatory end to the play.
Innocent Infidelity serves as a cautionary tale expounding the dangers of obsession. The murder of Julia is one of the highpoints in the play; it is at this moment that the analogist situation of Browning’s Porphyria’s Lover is truly brought to life. The synchronised terse verbal exchange adds to the drama. The musical accompaniment captures the mood with brilliance and wholly enhances the viewing experience. Violinist Jin Matsutoja played brilliant pieces which he had not only composed but performed with effortless timing.
Innocent Infidelity is a subtle exploration of the profound, with a dark and disturbing sojourn into irrationality. This play is a complex examination of the human conscience. Reginald who has become emotionally wrecked by a destructive relationship invents a transient romantic dream world. As events unfold, fiction and reality become increasingly blurred and indistinguishable; creating confusion and uncertainty both in Reginald’s life and in the mind of the viewer. As the play draws to a close we were left mystified and it was left to the audience to surmise in which reality the murderous act occurred. The frustration of the inconclusive nature of the play is one of its most remarkable features. Wilmann has succeeded in creating an engrossing play in which the audience is given free rein to their imagination and are encouraged to reflect on the nature and outcome of infidelity and in this respect the play certainly does not disappoint.