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Review of Sanctuary at Tristan Bates Theatre

Sanctuary
Sanctuary

If you are going to see psychological sci-fi thriller Sanctuary, be prepared for an intense hour that keeps you guessing.

Drawing on subjects surrounding post-traumatic stress syndrome and gut instinct survival, this interesting play follows one young ex-soldier, Kari Allwood as she struggles to come to terms with what has, and is, happening to her.

A minimal set with the audience positioned on two sides creates the feeling of a square shaped room. Kari is dressed in what resembles white pyjamas and as only a white chair, a white mattress, a small, outdated TV set surrounding her.

Where is she? This is the frustrating problem that we try and work through with her.

Elizabeth Robin plays Kari, and she is highly committed, especially as the piece moves on. In the beginning, there seems an awful lot of empty swearing – she is frustrated yes but the writing at the beginning doesn’t seem to have many levels. However, it does build up and entice the audience, and Robin does it justice.

With such a long and intense scripted show, it is admirable that her focus did not waver once. Robin goes through many highs and lows throughout the play, and each is justified by her thought process whether that process is on display to the audience or not. Robin should be proud of her fearless performance.

Besides the ‘computer’ who is Kari’s only ‘company’, there is a short appearance by another character, Jessica, who has been mentioned throughout. Is it necessary to have her there in person? That is up for discussion, as after her sudden ‘imagined’ entrance, it seems that she neither adds nor would take away if she was or wasn’t there. However, her initial unexpected turn up was nicely timed and executed by actress Catalina Blackman.

Blackman also plays the voice of the computer – nicknamed S.A.M, and does a very good job of having an air of relatable human mixed with robotic automation. A challenge, but it works well. At times the voice is undeniably not robotic, and the two women are arguing… but that starts to all make sense later on.

This play has an air of not having a definitive outcome, and yet on reflection, it is very obvious what has been happening the whole time. Once again, this is a credit to both the acting and the writing. Anthony Orme is the writer and director and has done a very good job of shaping the flow of the play nicely.

Although only running for just over an hour there were moments towards the end when it began to drag a little and no clear conclusion was in sight. Then it got back on track and had a nice, neat, closing. On the whole, though, excellent work and highly recommended, especially if you like to ponder about life and all our instincts and capabilities as humans. Running until 19th August at the Tristan Bates Theatre, this is worth a look. 

4 stars

Review by H Hemming

2040. The war is over, and the world is resolved…so why can’t Kari remember anything? What is S.A.M. and how can she escape Sanctuary?
In the aftermath of the war, Kari Trent wakes in a cell with no recollection of how or why she got there. There is no exit, no company, and more alarmingly, no answers. She must discover the truth for herself, but is she strong enough to do it before it’s too late?

Writer & Director: Anthony Orme
The Cast: Elizabeth Robin, Catalina Blackman
Producer: Laura Ellis
Running Time: 1 hour (No interval)
Age recommendation: 16+ (strong language)

Website: www.nowyouknowproductions.co.uk
Twitter: @NowYouKnowPro

SANCTUARY
The Tristan Bates Theatre,
14th – 19th August, 9.15pm,
https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/

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