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Faceless by Selina Fillinger at Park Theatre | Review

Faceless: Photo credit Pete Le May.
Faceless: Photo credit Pete Le May.

There are few instances these days where the writing on a new play is so solid, almost nothing else matters. Selina Fillinger’s Faceless is just such a play. Following the trial of a suspected terrorist – a young white woman from Chicago who converts to Islam and tries to join ISIS – Faceless touches upon issues of religion, race, class, gender and patriotism (for starters).

It’s a provocative subject, handled delicately, intelligently and without stereotyping. Susie (Fiona Gent) converts to Islam over Twitter, and is prosecuted by a young female Muslim lawyer (Paige Round). As the case unfolds, the influence and dangers of the internet are examined in a fresh way, taking the expected machinations of a vulnerable young woman and adding layers of more serious consequences for examination. The language is witty – in turn, comedic, empathetic, provocative – and the characters are solidly drawn. Paige Round’s Clare is most certainly the heart of the production – I would watch her read shopping lists if necessary, as the performance is entirely captivating from start to finish.

The flow and pace of this production are of a particular quality; the facts of the case are expertly unveiled as we grow to learn more about this group of flawed individuals, existing not only as themselves but as stand-ins for far bigger picture concerns. What is faith? What is patriotism? What is gratitude, or freedom? How do we exert our principles in the modern world? To what extent are we responsible for the groups we are a part of? Expectations are questioned at their very core, and while the case draws to its conclusion, the audience are left with so much more to consider.

The only detractor was the slightly jarring stock photography accompanying each scene in the background; much of this change in scenario could have been achieved merely with lighting or sound and would have felt a lot more sophisticated. But it’s a small detractor – the play itself is so beautifully written and performed, it hardly matters what else accompanies it. Moments of accent slippage occurred, but again, this did not interrupt the quality and intellect of the work.

Prav MJ has directed a truly remarkable production, and the entire cast is to be congratulated for what is one of the most thought-provoking pieces of theatre to watch at the moment. I eagerly await Fillinger’s next work; her talent is undeniable. For those in the mood for a solid story, intricately and sensitively told, over another devised piece of Fringe theatre, this is the production for you. It is the best combination of a strong story, strong performances and strong thought-provoking themes. The Park Theatre is to be congratulated for supporting such a unique and worthwhile piece of theatre.

4 stars

Review by Christina Care

Directed and designed by returning director Prav MJ, Faceless highlights the power of the internet and its far-reaching consequences in the 21 st century. Inspired by a true court case¹, this insightful play follows the life of Susie, a suburban Chicago teenager who converts online from Christianity to Islam and tries to reach Syria. In the ensuing court case she finds herself portrayed as an enemy of the State and is prosecuted by a young female Muslim lawyer. Press Night is Thursday 19th April 2018.

Cast and Creative Team
Written by Selina Fillinger, Directed and Designed by Prav MJ, Composed by José Albela, Lighting Designed by Gareth Prentice, Sound Designed by Joe Dines.
Cast: Fiona Gent, Paige Round, Sam Thorpe-Spinks, Matt Mella and Fearon McElroy

Venue: Park 90, Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP
Dates: 17 Apr – 12 May 2018


  • Christina Carè

    'Christina is just another Aussie in London, writing about the arts and signing up for all the weird performance productions the city has to offer. She is Content Editor at Spotlight and tweets from @christinacare.'

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