Saved

Tue 5th – Sat 9th November 2013

reviews

David McShane

at 01:20 on 6th Nov 2013

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Macaroon Productions have created a satisfying production of a modern classic. First produced in 1965, Saved has played an integral part in the history of modern theatre. Considering the recent focus on misogyny in Oxford, the all too evident parallels between Bond's society and ours still prove their relevance: some of the dialogue presented on the BT stage still finds its home on our modern streets. Perhaps what this production best proves is that, detached from the furore of its original censorship and in the wake of the In-yer-face theatre movement, Saved still has the power to shock.

Pam (Maddy Walker) is a character which could easily lapse into an aggravating caricature of a teenage mother. Yet Walker has her quivering mental state convincingly flash into focus enough to prevent her from being a totally unsympathetic vision. Len (Marcus Balmer) is a convincing embodiment of the potential, but refuted, dignity of society. Balmer has Len constantly moving towards benevolence before nervously abandoning this action in frustration, fear or confusion.

The cast as a whole worked well at delivering tension: the scenes just before the interval bloomed after an occasionally stilted start, particularly those set in the family home. Notable also was Harry (Christopher Evans) who's metamorphosis from Gang Member to long-suffering father was subtle enough to escape (my) notice until well into the second half - although the propensity of once gang member to stick out his tongue leaned more towards Miley Cyrus than threatening 1960s youth. When the tensions occasionally lapsed into shouting, the cast didn't always produce the intended threat.

Apart from the occasional laborious scene change, the production was quite tidy. The etherial light delivered by the T.V. in the family home was particularly effective. The recording of a baby crying off-stage was well chosen, creating continuous ripples of discomfort throughout the audience. Yet the small and bouncy rubber stones, used at an integral scene, did somewhat deflate one of the play's most famous moments.

There was a slight jarring between the realism of some scenes (such as the fully furnished family home) and the sparsity of others (such as the prison, which was just a bucket). First-night nerves may have also been the cause of some slightly stilted and tripping dialogue, although this did settle as the play progressed.

This was a solid production, relevant in its apt and worrying resurrection of Bond's Britain, fleshed out by a capable cast. Some scenes truly flourished, punishing the audience with their tension and I'm positive that after tonight the overall flow of the piece will climatically enforce Saved's morbid vision: all the more terrifying for its relevance today. A worthwhile, necessary experience for anyone interested in the roots of modern theatre.

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