THEATRE REVIEW: Earthquakes in London ★★★

Earthquakes in London
Bristol Old Vic
Thursday 7th - 16th December 2019

Spanning over six decades and following the lives of three sisters and their hectic, but very different lifestyles, Earthquakes in London is originally split over five acts, two acts with an interval in this case as Bristol Old Vic Theatre School bring to life Mike Bartlett's often drowsy and spoon-fed script with a good effort full of memorable performances.

At the centre of this imminent threat to London, where a seismic disaster is just around the corner, is Freya (Nancy Farino) whose pregnant state has her worrying for her future daughters prospects. Though only briefly we see her relationship with partner Steve (Akshay Khanna) splinter the couple as he sets to leave for a couple of days, Farino is glowing in the role which sees her put through a whole host of emotions and hallucinations. 

With scenes often interweaving within each other to produce a crisp crossover, Cressida Brown has directed a production which feels almost polished in every aspect, if not only let down at the smallest of moments with a crowded stage and unclear focus. Scenes involving Colin (Michael Dodds) looking at videos of girls at teenage parties whilst joining in singing Coldplay brings huge enjoyment and uplifting moments, but the stage suddenly becomes an unsettling atmosphere with lack of playing space, especially when big scenery pieces are placed and the climax of Act One has medical employees walking about clearly just to fill time in transitions. 

Charlotte East excels in bringing the feisty and strong-minded politician Sarah to life, and overall stands out with her presence that makes you sit up straight in your seat; scenes that involve her younger sister Jasmine (Sarah McCormack) brings a stronger emotion that lacks otherwise, and these particular scenes are the most enjoyable to witness throughout, even if Nimshi Kongolo's portrayal of Tom can at times seem whiny and childlike which juxtapositioned with his rather strong motive which becomes unveiled.

Chris Horseman and Oliver Wareham's technical aspects again elevates the production with a crisp understanding and becomes a character almost in its entirety; When Peter (Olivia Edwards) proficiencies the upcoming doom early in the production in Freya's house, Horseman's simplistic attention with a purple glow focused does leave you unsettled, along with Wareham's multitude of audio interview records with MPs and David Cameron eerily playing in the background.

Overall, the effort and time that has carefully been considered to bring Bartlett's dreary, slow paced tale to life for the most part pays off with notable performances from promising, future thespians and technicians from this Bristol Old Vic Theatre School company.


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