This Is Not A Drill is truly a whirlwind of a spectacle; sometimes in a good way, sometimes less so. Performed by the BA (Hons) Acting students from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, the play takes you on journey from the kitchen floor into Outer space and beyond. It begins with the cast as children, innocently playing and fooling around, until the phones come out and everything gets a bit messy. The idea is more or less spoon fed to you throughout the production: the future is coming and we better prepare ourselves for it. The future painted for us is, undeniably, not so pretty.
The company grapples with fears of modernity and the digital age. There were two things which thoroughly impressed me about this production: the setting and the acting. Considering how tiny the stage is (Tristan Bates Theatre has just 70 seats), they did a superb job of utilising the little space they had. I never realised a table could be used for so many different things! Top marks for lighting and sound effects too. The strobe lighting and video footage marry well, making for a visually stimulating experience.
Yet, I couldn’t help but feel that the actual structure of the play, if you can even call it a structure, was too extreme. There was simply too much happening that it became excessive and overwhelming. I understand that that was part of the whole idea of modernity and how uncontrollable it all is, but I just found it too in-your-face. Of course there were a handful of individual scenes which were beautifully choreographed, and some of the acting was simply magnetic. The cast demonstrated a great group dynamic and seemed to work really well together on stage. Samuel Ross and Lucas Button gave particularly promising performances. Nevertheless, after a while, the constant zigzagging and jolting from scene to scene just felt unnecessary.
That said, being unacquainted with the actors centre, it was something entirely new for me. Despite my mixed feelings towards the play, I’m still curious to find out what else the company have in store for me.