You Stupid Darkness at Southwark Playhouse

You Stupid Darkness by Sam Steiner is set in Brightline’s office where Frances, Jon, Anglie and Joey attend each Tuesday night to answer calls from those needing someone to talk to. They emerge into the office from a world that requires gas masks and where bridges are collapsing, although why is never fully revealed to the audience.

Whilst the whole play is set in this small, cramped office the relationship between those in the office and the callers kept me gripped throughout and the themes reached far beyond the 4 walls of the set. Whilst it is clear that the world outside is in turmoil you become fascinated with the world inside this office on a weekly basis and despite this turmoil outside the dialogue inside the office feels realistic. The dialogue has a well considered pace and variety, from heartwarming, serious moments to some high paced comedy cold.

The characters are all brilliantly written and played. Team leader Frances is played by Jenni Maitland, who at every turn dedicates her energy into enthusing her team and putting into practise what she has learnt during her counselling course. Her high energy is contrasted brilliantly with the few more poignant moments she was on stage alone. Frances also takes on a motherly role to Joey, who is played by Andrew Finnigan. He is the newest recruit to Brightline and as the show opens we meet him on his first day. Finnigan captures Joey’s innocence at the same time as someone who is wise beyond his years.

Lydia Larson played Angie who struggled not to bring personal antidotes into each call she took. She also managed to bring comedy into the most normal moments, for example removing a tissue out of its box became riveting. Completing the quartet was Andy Rush who played Jon. He is the most sceptical of the group although his trombone playing is something to behold.

The design of the show by Amy Jane Cook was very clever. The set was ageless with older style computers and telephones which contrasted with the gas masks and some of the stories from the outside world. The complete blackout between weeks, were eerily dark and the changes in the set from week to week really heightened the atmosphere.

You Stupid Darkness is a brilliantly clever and riveting play about finding your place in a confused world, one that everyone can relate to.

To find out more about You Stupid Darkness and to book tickets please visit their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Cops on at Southwark Playhouse, Beautiful and Death of A Salesman.

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