As they are led along a dingy path across the bunker-styled stage, the audience is immediately immersed in the world of The Trembling Giant. From the onset, it is clear that one of the piece’s primary strengths is its set design. Equally detailed, the lighting and soundscape build up the performance’s tone, combining to reflect production company Those Who Love You’s core mission: presenting experimental theatre.
Throughout the play there are stunning and emotive moments, where the clever use of lighting and sound draws the audience into a state of near paralysis. The soundscape reverberates through the audience, adding another layer of immersion.
Unfortunately however, the narrative follows standard plot conventions too closely. The script is interesting, but may have interacted better with the other elements if it were less constructed and dialogue-driven.
The performances given by Zoe Street (Margo) and Peter Lane Townsend (Flint) are individually engaging, but at times their chemistry is rigid and the relationship disjointed. Street’s performance is incredibly layered, delving into the mind of a person who is suffering the psychological effects of being confined for too long. She interacts with the set so successfully that she has the audience convinced she has Stockholm syndrome towards the tree she so obsessively cares for. However, such a performance did not mesh well with Townsend’s character. On his part, Flint drastically changed from boyish to aggressive without effective transition.
Writer and director Monty Sallur notes in the program that the aim of the piece is to open up dialogue about environmental issues, fundamentalism, and the capabilities of human determination. In this, The Trembling Giant is a success. The performance is thought-provoking and leaves the audience questioning the reality of humanity’s future. Highlighting the importance of sustainability, Sallur’s work unquestionably confirms his position as an upcoming theatre-maker to watch for.
Words by Emily Wallis
The Trembling Giant runs until 27 August at the Blue Room Theatre Tickets available here.