Joshua Phillips

at 23:49 on 25th May 2013



Shadows on the Wall is a story of personal struggles and power struggles, of family bonds and trust; of the lengths that people are prepared to go to achieve power, and the lengths that people are prepared to go to keep it. It sounds like quite an interesting set-up: a blind king who came to power many years ago in a revolution, having personally killed his father the previous king, is in an advanced state of decay. He sees very few people, and trusts fewer. He reflects on his rise to power, while his aides plot to take that same power from him. From that brief crib, Shadows on the Wall sounds (dare I say it) interesting, maybe even good. Alas: this is not the case.

If that summary above is to be believed, the play sounds a little like a cross between Macbeth and King Lear, and the scriptwriter was probably conscious of those thematic parallels. Rather than playing on them, however, what we are treated to is a stolid pastiche of quasi-Shakespearean diction, a thick, gelatinous porridge of over-the-top aphorisms and mixed metaphors. All four characters sound precisely the same: they speak in the same register, use the same metaphors time and time again, and copy each other’s lines. There is no room for respite, nor humour here. There’s no quickness, or wit. Just a dull, heavy plodding. It is impossible to like any of the play’s characters: indeed, for me, the bloodbath at the play’s end could not have come quickly enough.

The quality of the script was compounded by the sheer paucity of the acting. Whilst a good actor ought to be able to make the most of bad material, there was simply no evidence of this happening. One of the worst things an actor can do is to mistake emotion for simply shouting, and all four actors engage quite vigorously with this sin. Nor do the actors utilise the large stage that the Old Fire Station affords them: their performance is almost entirely static, with any actual movement coming across as false and contrived. On the part of the king, who spends almost the entire duration of the play seated in his throne, this is understandable, but it is not so in the context of the other three actors who spend all the whole time on their feet.

There isn’t much to admire about Shadows on the Wall, it has to be said. The production does pick up at points, and begin to find a voice of its own, but these points are too few and too far between to redeem the production, which is a very great pity. Part of a review is picking a production up on areas where it could have been improved, or better accomplished, but there is just very little here to redeem. Which is a very great pity.


Audience Avg.

0 votes, 0 comments

Click here for more event information

cast involved

other events on

Version 0.3.7a