In a tiny theatre in an unused railway arch, a thrilling psychological drama unfolds. Flames follows Meredith, who visits her fiancé Edmund’s grave on the anniversary of his death, accompanied by his friend and business associate Eric. There are still many questions left unanswered about Edmund’s death, and the crime he committed, but while Meredith tries to solve the puzzle, Eric seems more interested in forgetting about the past and moving on to a brighter future – together. However, as the night unfolds and a mysterious man arrives, it becomes clear that nothing and no-one are what they seem.
Although there are some violent action scenes, most of the drama of this play is psychological – the audience and Meredith are manipulated and lied to time and time again, as we try to work out who can be trusted, and whether anyone in this scenario is who they say they are. Although this is enjoyable for most of the play, towards the end the constant state of suspense and surprise might start to feel wearing. For the most part, however, the twists are handled well – they are believable, but not predictable.
There is a good use of space in this play – although the graveyard set is simple and unchanging, the actors move off to one side to re-enact flashbacks, and in every case the acting is absorbing enough that the background makes no difference to the experience. The sound and lighting effects leave something to be desired, and could probably be dispensed with completely without affecting the show, and the music is sometimes repetitive, with many of the songs sounding the same.
The three actors work well together – the action usually unfolds when one character is offstage, as the other two plot together or turn on each other – but in the rare scenes where all three are together, they manage to maintain an even spread of energy rather than letting two of the actors dominate the stage. They handle Dolginoff’s text well, drawing out the comedy and the emotion in equal parts. Among other things, Flames is a heartwrenching, gripping exploration of love, friendship, betrayal, trust and revenge.