Something Underground Theatre Company was founded by Jonathan Brown, the author and director of Of Our Own Making, in 2006, since then creating one man/woman and ensemble shows.
The play, in fact, concerns Saif who is escaping from a Middle-Eastern country, being willing to do almost anything to reach the United Kingdom.
The work has the feel of a television drama as it is written in a series of short scenes, most of which are duologues, all with the same pace and with very little action, so creating an almost hypnotic effect on the audience. In addition, there are flashback scenes where we see Saif being interviewed by an immigration official, trying to drag the truth out of him.
Saif is convincingly portrayed by Vincent Kerschbaum, who tries to wring everything he can out of the dialogue.
Micky (Erin Elkin), the naïve, Catholic, Northern Irish young cub reporter, who is made pregnant by Saif, looks good and is as believable as the script allows her to be.
For most of the first act, we are asked to believe that Almira (Natali Servat) is actually Saif’s wife, especially as she has a babe in arms. Natali is effective in the role, making much of her few opportunities. She is in fact accompanied by her friend, Hassan (Hamza Siddique).
The immigration official, mentioned earlier, whose scenes consist of duologues with Saif, is played by the play’s author and director, Jonathan Brown. Much credit is due to him, as he must have found it difficult to imagine the play from an audience’s point of view, having never seen it ‘from the front’ as it were.
Teething problems appeared to be affecting the lighting department (Joseph Thomas), as the pre-performance sound/slide show kept disappearing, and occasionally (eg an early scene in Act One with Micky) the actors found themselves ‘in the dark’ for a whole scene.
Music for background and scene changes, of which there were many, was specially composed and played by Dirk Campbell.
No one was credited with being in charge of costumes which was a shame as some of the uniforms were not appropriate and others clearly needed ironing!
The simple set – white drapes and a scaffold tower – contrived to push much of what action there was downstage, so aiding communication with the audience.
Something Underground is to be congratulated on providing free workshops for teenage boys in Wandsworth during the run of this play, inviting them to devise scenes using physical acting skills, as well as giving several afternoon performances, presumably for schools in the area. It would be very illuminating to know what young people thought of this play and the issues it portrays.
Review by John Groves
Something Underground presents: Of Our Own Making
An unsettling look at why people commit atrocities and the part we all play in creating those we label ‘monsters’
Natali Servat – Amira
Erin Elkin – Micky
Vincent Kerschbaum – Saif
Hamza Siddique – Hassan
Jonathan Brown – Mohammed
Dirk Campbell – Composer and Musician
Emily Melville-Brown – Stage Manager
Joseph Thomas – Lighting Design
Writer and director – Jonathan Brown
Approx 2 hrs 15 mins inc interval
Tara Theatre, 30th January to 16th February