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Review of The Collector at Greenwich Theatre

The CollectorIt’s scary to see how far people will go when they are desperate – where is the line? It’s scary to see how people can behave when in positions of power – why is there no line?

It’s horrific to hear the things people have been put through. It’s horrific to sit and watch this play and know that it was inspired by true events. Events that were not, and are still not, covered by the media.

Writer Henry Naylor has witnessed first-hand the devastation that war brings to the people of the Middle East. ‘It’s very easy to sit behind your desk at home and say the world is a terrible place,’ he says, ‘but for me, going there and actually experiencing this story completely changed my life.’

With a minimal set and basic lighting, it is the delivery of the text that is the key to this performance, and the actors should be applauded for doing it justice. The audience must listen intently from the beginning, but with excellent direction by Michael Cabot it is easy to get swept along soon enough.

Anna Riding begins by describing the Middle East as a land of magic and dreams. Her beautiful delivery of this poetic imagery sets the audience up with hope, but it’s hope with an underlying darkness. We all know that the image is not all that it seems.

Riding continues with a grounded energy throughout the play. As each actor takes their turn to speak, the others switch between listening, being involved, or being removed. At these moments, Riding is often removed, but maintains a visible inner strength, often with a touch of dreaminess. She appears to be in another place, and almost accepting of all that has happened to herself and to the man that she loves. She states at the end that this is her story. This is just what happens. It’s upsetting, and we shouldn’t accept.

Olivia Beardsley as Foster plays a very convincing interrogator, and there are some equal opportunity fights in there, which are good to hear. Beardsley commands the room with ease, and one can see the aggressive inner turmoil that she is going through. She stays completely committed to the emotion throughout the whole play, with her journey carrying on even when she is not the one talking.

William Reay plays Kasprowicz, constantly fighting with himself, with the social implications of war, and with the corruption spreading through the prison which he is trying to run. Reay plays this character well, but with an air of distractedness. There are a few moments when he uses physicality to enhance what he is saying, and these moments are particularly exciting. Reay really comes into his own as the tension mounts at the end and his delivery had the audience not daring to move a muscle.

The Collector is a powerful, well-written piece, which leaves us with that overriding question of, ‘but what would I do?’ and wondering why humans are such victims to themselves. Look out also for the remark about America being a way of life, a state of mind. We are once again left wondering what is happening to the world, and just how much the media may be covering up.

5 Star Rating

Review by H Hemming

2003. Mazrat Prison, Iraq. Previously one of Saddam’s most notorious torture houses, where more than 10,000 people died, it is now under Allied command.
Nassir works here, translating for the American interrogators. He’s local, pro-Western, determined to bring liberal values to his country and is about to get married to Zoya, his sweetheart. But when he is recognised by Faisal, new prisoner and psychotic supporter of the old regime, his life becomes a living hell.

Born out of Henry Naylor’s own experiences of a visit to Bagram Airbase in 2003, The Collector is a compelling tale of murder, evil and betrayal set in occupied Iraq.

One of the most highly-acclaimed shows at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival, The Collector won a prestigious Scotsman Fringe First Award.

The Collector
Tue 17-Sat 21 January 2017
http://www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk/

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