The premier of 4front productions’ uncut version of its Edinburgh Festival Fringe success, ‘Going Down’, took place last Wednesday at the Lincoln Drill Hall, showing auspicious signs for the future of new theatre.
Dealing with major taboos in life, Going Down explicitly challenges and discusses those things we as humans tend to suppress. On an oppressive and yet minimalist set, the tension built up so badly that my muscles ached by the end of the performance. “I wanted to take an extreme and darker side of life, and place it in a confined space so that the unknown and unexpected elements of human existence come flooding out,” explained Darren Furniss, who wrote and directed the play.
The play sees six strangers stranded in a lift successively becoming more pained by their guilty secrets. Darren, a University of Lincoln graduate like much of the 4front productions team (the others being current students), said that “the idea of a play set in a lift surfaced in my first year at Lincoln Uni”. He added that “the LPAC staff helped a lot in providing space areas for extracurricular activities where I enhanced all of my skills. They were really encouraging.”
The set, which consisted solely of a single platform, intensified the ambience, ensuring that all eyes were on the actors and all their emotions flooded over the audience.
“I added the black backdrop to add a ghostly shadow when each actor delivered their monologue,” Darren said. This technique seemed to represent the Jekyll and Hyde predicament, focussing so much on satisfying the societal construct, that one consequently loses oneself and acts out of suppression and frustration.
Dealing with such delicate subjects means characterisation had to be revised and compelling: “the primary source for me is body language, it reveals so much through silence and sends subliminal messages to the audience that help clarify a character’s thoughts and feelings.” It was just this quality that amplified the play’s power, through Pinter-influenced pauses and mannerisms, possible hidden meanings and psychological states are hinted at. The use of expletives was perhaps unnecessary at times but, aside from this, the actors clearly “knew” their characters and how they might react under such circumstances.
The frustrating, and yet intriguing, thing about the play is that there are no answers. In a philosophical and sophisticated manner, it tries to tackle how well somebody knows themselves and what they’re capable of, asking the question that if you “take religion out of the equation, what are you left with?”
There’s no doubt that 4front Productions are rising professionals. With their creative story lines and ability to “move away from academic limits”, it seems there is hope for the stage as an entertainment medium. Taking Going Down to Derbyshire and Yorkshire in 2010, it’s sure to be another credit to add to their growing portfolio.
The Linc’s Deputy Editor, Harry Lincoln, shares his ulterior views on the performance.Tweet