Whereas some plays skirt carefully around controversial subjects, Mike Bartlett’s An Intervention hits the issues straight on, creating a dialogue about the ethics of war through two ‘best’ friends, whose opinions on the matter could not be more different.
The play follows two nameless women, A and B, as an argument about whether the military should intervene threatens to break up their friendship. The themes explored in the play of war and the longevity (or otherwise) of friendship were brilliantly portrayed by the two leads Ella Hiscocks, A and Libby Boyd, B. Boyd’s ability to embody the subtleties of emotion of B was stunning. The role is traditionally played by a man but actually worked surprisingly well with a female actor, so much so that I don’t think I could imagine seeing it played by a man. Hiscocks’s ability to portray the complex A was incredible, a particular highlight of the show is in her monologue about Caspar, which showed immense emotional depth.
”This led to the audience starting to feel slightly alienated as the message sometimes became more prevalent than the relationship between the two women’’
Where the script fell down was that occasionally its links to the war and the controversy of the titular intervention became somewhat too contrived. This led to the audience starting to feel slightly alienated as the message sometimes became more prevalent than the relationship between the two women. However, despite this the two leads created characters that you were able to empathise with and actually care for their friendship.
The lighting, designed by Hannah Burne, worked well to complement the acting in the sparsely decorated stage by clearly distinguishing between the various settings such as A’s living room, an art gallery and the pub.
”This was a very clever directorial decision that made a refreshing change from the classic proscenium lay out’’
Director Beth Angella’s decision to stage the play in traverse, with the audience sat on either side of the stage, worked well in this two woman play as it allowed the action to play out sideways to the audience, highlighting the two differing opinions which were the foundations of many of the scenes. Also the fact we could see the other side of the audience put the play in perspective, a running theme in Bartlett’s script, and reminded us that we were watching these intimate exchanges as an audience. This was a very clever directorial decision that made a refreshing change from the classic proscenium lay out.
However, later in the play this did work as a disadvantage; in some of the more emotional scenes the fact that the actors had to perform to both sides of the stage meant that some of their most meaningful and impressive reactions and facial expressions were lost depending on which side you were sat on, which was a shame.
”Beth Angella and Izzy Miles have masterfully put on Bartlett’s thought provoking play’’
Director Beth Angella and producer Izzy Miles have masterfully put on Bartlett’s thought provoking play, creating a piece of theatre that not only challenges the audience on their own views about the ethics of war but also challenges them to look at the way they interact with people who have differing opinions and, most importantly, their friends. I would definitely recommend.
8/10 – Excellent, highly enjoyable
Image courtesy of the Nottingham New Theatre
‘An Intervention’ is running at the Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday 18th March. For more information and where to find tickets see here.