Testament - Stripped down drama at its best
I'm sure you've heard that the book is always better than the film, because it can say so much more.
Well that same could be said about theatre, whilst block buster movies can fill in so many details with photo realistic CGI, the high level of detail is competing for your attenntion can often take your attention away from the important thing - the story.
A good play can strip out lots of detail and still be able to tell a great story, even more so without unnecessary images, no matter how accurate, shouting for your attention.
Testament is a play that illustrates this perfectly with a production stripped bare to just the essentials needed to tell the story, and boy does it tell a story...
When you sit down to watch this play you're presented with an almost empty stage, just 2 upright panels at the back, and a hospital bed in the foreground. Yet over the next hour you are taken to the scene of a car crash, that happens live on stage, the hospital, a nightclub, the mens room and a beautiful glade in the shade of a tree. The combination of the elegant staging, and the flawless performances of the cast leave you in no doubt where you are at any point in the play.
The story of Testament deals with Max, in hospital after being involved in a serious car accident. His brother visits him, but he's concerned that his girlfriend Tess has not. We then go on two parallel journies. With Max we drift in and out of his mind, and relive the many events that lead up to the accident, sometimes memories, sometime delusions, with the Devil on one shoulder and Jesus on the other. Tess is there in his dreams every day, but not in reality. The other journey is firmly routed in the real world, with his brother trying to understand Max's condition, and having to make difficult decisions, one of which could lead to horrific consequences for Max and Tess.
The tale is beautifully told with just the right mix of darkness and light, and though the drama moves in an out of Max's mind, clever use of light and sound design, with a fantastic ethereal sound track, richly paints the locations of Max's memories and delusions, whilst leaving the real world stark and silent. Clever use of sets and props make for some great scenes, and the car crash is very cleverly done.
The acting throughout is superb from the whole cast, though special mentions need to go to Nick Young for his mesmerising performance as Max, you feel every ounce of pain and torment that he goes through, and Hannah Benson who plays Tess, who manages to visualise and embody the intense love between Tess and Max every moment she is on stage. If this were playing to a wider audience there might be talk of nominations by now.
Testament is produced by Chalk Line Theatre Company, the play is written by Sam Edmunds, Sound Design is by William Patrick Harrison and the play is co-directed by both of them. This is their first production, and they're out of the gate running with an excellent start.
Testament has just completed a very successful run for the whole of the Edinburgh Fringe, receiving great customer and critical reviews with 4 star and 5 star reviews along the way.
Next stop is Clapham Fringe on the 10th and 11th of October 2018 at 7pm, and then onto the Hope Theatre in Islington 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th of October 2018 at 7:45pm.
If you are in the area make sure you go, you won't regret it.