Shrewsbury School

House Play review: The Grove's 'How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found'

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Photos taken by Will Moorcroft. Click on the above photos to see a slideshow of the images.

Following last year's darkly comic production of Dario Fo's 'The Open Couple', The Grove, once more under the artistic stewardship of Peter Middleton, again packed considerable dramatic punch with their production of 'How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found'.

Finn Kennedy's play was performed as recently as 2006 and addresses the very contemporary theme of the individual in today's 'Surveillance State'. The protagonist, Charlie, portrayed with great poise and sensitivity by James Halliday, is a London marketing executive who, riddled with debt and close to mental breakdown, decided to 'disappear', assuming an entirely new identity with the help of petty criminal Mike (David Pritchard). However Charlie quickly discovers that he cannot escape his demons simply by leaving his name behind.

The Ashton Theatre was transformed into an unusual 'thrust' stage configuration with seats surrounding the actors on three sides and this, combined with the strikingly stark set, consisting simply of a platform above white-painted filing cabinets and an eerily coffin-like white box, helped create a particularly intimate and powerful atmosphere. The play's darkly humorous nature allowed the commanding performances from James Halliday and Polly Bingham (as James's ghostly pathologist, talking to him from beyond the grave) to combine with some brilliantly comic cameos including Nick Thompson's brash city slicker, Bertie Mayo's Polish fortune-teller, and Ben Smith's ghoulish lost-property attendant – not to mention the Housemaster as the voice of the shipping forecast.


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