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Review: An Execution (By Invitation Only) at Camden People’s Theatre

28 September, 2018 — By Rory Cameron

Floro Asqueta Performer Gemma Brockis in An Execution (By Invitation Only)

You find yourself in a cramped cell, within touching distance of a prisoner due to be executed, unable to escape through the paper walls. Through the disjointed conversations the prisoner has with his hapless lawyer, unsympathetic wife and zoophilic jailer, very little is learnt of the situation. Prisoner and audience alike are left in the dark, sometimes quite literally.

Lengthy silences punctuated by confused exchanges form the basis of the humour that runs throughout the play. Yet, as the plot doesn’t thicken these positive aspects descend into something far more surreal.

Laughs won from the audience as a spider, played by a mouth poking through a hole, is fed celery by the jailer, are a reflection of the bizarreness of the situation. At one point, the prisoner leaves his cell, only to willingly return, which gains a laugh, but isn’t particularly thought-provoking.

Between illegible scrawlings across the walls and floors and circular conversations, much is lost in translation between characters. The only certainty is uncertainty, yet this theme remains underdeveloped and leaves the audience with the sense that something is lacking. Such motifs deserve more time to be explored.

Ultimately, the strengths of this play – the staging, the light-hearted manner in which it is able to treat a morbid subject, and its sheer unusualness – aren’t quite enough to save it.

Until September 29
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