Four Minutes, Twelve Seconds

Reviewer's Rating

Olivier nominated James Fritz takes us on a journey following Di (Kate Maravan) who is seeking the truth starting with her sons bloody t-shirt. But with this digital age we live in, that manages to keep our lives more secret yet vulnerable at the same time, Di is finding it hard to come to terms with who her 17 year old son really is. Her son Jack who we never actually see throughout the play, has been accused of rape and of posting a video of his sexual relation with then girlfriend Cara (Ria Zmitrowicz). The sex on video appears to be forceful but Jack swears to his father David (Jonathan McGuinness) that he is innocent and what can a father do but believe his son wholly unless of course there is something else we don’t know.

The gripping drama plays out on a intimate thrust staging with little props, the focus is more in the spatial relationship between characters on this simple yet effective setting. I was surprised by how comfortable I was and with ease, I was able to engage myself within this world structured by Anna Ledwich’s direction. They play itself is set in south London and this was perfectly mirrored by Janet Bird and Bliss Scully’s design choices, most dominantly the style of costume. 

Did Jack sexually assault Cara? Or is it new age rough sex adopted from the millions of other videos found online? David surely believes the later whilst Di decided unpicks the evidence and realises her son may not be who she thought he was. She no longer sees’ Jack as her baby but she does keep in mind that he is still her 17 year old son with a bright future ahead of him. Shockingly, there are several moment in this play were you are forced to laugh aloud however there are also moments when you laugh nervously also due to the ambiguity of the text. Fritz does not lay all on table for us, it is our job as audience members to also investigate and come to conclusions to what may have happened on that video in Jacks bedroom however just as the stage is designed – patterned square boxes that resemble computer pixels – not all the details are clear and that leaves us unsure of our own conclusions. 

The play deals with gender oppression, education and most prominently classism, there is a scene close to the end were we are reunited with Jacks best friend Nicky (Anyebe Godwin) and we feel the unfair nature of life and because of the way Godwin plays Nicky, we are able to feel a little sorry for him, sorry for his circumstance in the end and also sorry for his naivety. 

For me the only disappointment was the continuous use of blackouts, I can see why it may have been done however it was much of a disruption after a while and was taking me away from the scene rather than engaging me further. Sarah Weltman’s use of sound complimented the running theme of this digital age however the sound was somewhat distracting as well as off putting due to its irritating nature, for example, sounds of glitches and sounds that resembled a system error. 

All in all it is a fast paced drama with believable characters who come to believable conclusion which always satisfies the audience. Think of it as a modern day soap opera but on stage minus having to wait for the christmas special for revelation of the truth.