The media and its proliferation of stories of unspeakable horrors, missing children and an abundance of guns and death as led to a two – fold reaction: people are more aware of their surroundings, that evil can exist in places they would not expect it to and the hyperawareness, the paranoia that these crimes are taking place everywhere, all the time, that you can trust no one. Archimedes’ Principle has as its undercurrent this new world: a world in which people cannot trust each other and most certainly not with their children; where every other day is a new story on the news that frightens and panics. Archimedes’ Principle is one day at a swimming pool. A trainer, Brandon (Lee Knight) is accused of inappropriately touching one of his swimmers in a town recently haunted by another incident at a youth center just 20 minutes away. Fellow trainer, Matt (Matt Bradley-Robinson) and manager Anna (Kathryn Worth) wrestle with themselves to decide how well you can possibly know someone else and where do rights to privacy begin and end.
The script itself has an intriguing premise, one that displays different perspectives, its ambiguity mitigating any clear cut right or wrong. Occasionally, the overlapping scenes in its disjointed timeline run too long, which sometimes feels like a crutch. However, there is no need for fear, as this production gives some evidence that in the right hands this play can be engaging and thought provoking. Julian Sims as David, a father of one of the swimmers, brings in the question of how far is a parent allowed to go when he fears for his child with great subtly and emotion. However, not all the performances or the direction reach the same level. Worth unfortunately proves heavy handed and off-putting in her role; Anna is ripe for sympathy yet the clichéd movements to express sadness and over-emoting create a barrier between her and the audience. Similarly, with an 80-minute, one-act play that often repeats scenes, the range in blocking should be greater. Actors shouting until violently cutting themselves off due to extreme “emotion” and the same hesitantly pacing before shouting after someone who refuses to return feels repetitive and like a production that ran out of ideas of how to authentically portray feeling.
Despite a few missteps in direction and acting, Archimedes’ Principle does shed light on a changing world. When people no longer feel safe, panic can turn to mob rule and it is hard to say where the moral line can be drawn. How much proof is needed for the protection of our children?
**Warning: Male frontal nudity
- By Josep Maria Miró i Coromina (Translated by Dustin Langan)
- Director: Marta Noguera-Cuevas
- Cast includes: Lee Knight, Matt Bradley-Robinson, Kathryn Worth, and Julian Sims
- Park Theatre, London
- Until 11th May 2014
- Time: 19:45
- Review by Becca Kaplan
- 18 April 2014