Caleb Roberts

I Think We Are Alone

18/02/20

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

I Think We Are Alone is all about compartmentalisation: about the boxes we create in which we hide our deepest fears, our greatest losses, our inner conflicts. In this brilliantly choreographed show, those boxes are represented quite literally by big translucent rectangles, mounted on wheels and expertly moved around the stage by the cast to create a whole series of settings. They are the doors of a hospice, the walls of a dance club – sometimes they shimmer and pulsate with light, sometimes the ghosts of past memories stare mournfully through them, as if entreating us to help.

And sometimes those same rectangles crowd suffocatingly in upon the performers, encircling them, crushing them, sealing them off from salvation.

It would be easy in the midst of all this spectacle to lose track of the performances, but Sally Abbott’s meticulously crafted script never allows that to happen. We are introduced to six seemingly unconnected characters and then gradually, expertly, Abbott pulls the threads of the disparate tales together, showing us how characters interconnect with other, the elements they have in common, the things that separate them. As one revelation unfolds in the second act, I actually slap my forehead, wondering how I can have failed to see it coming. But I have, and that’s down to the skill of the writing.

Clare (Polly Frame) and Ange (Charlotte Bate) are struggling to get past a dark secret they have shared since childhood, a secret that threats to drive them apart forever. Josie (Chizzy Akudolu), the proud mother of Cambridge student, Manny (Caleb Roberts), wants her son to have all the advantages of a classic education, something she always longed for but never had. And sad loner Graham (Andrew Turner) drives a night taxi from destination to destination, desperately searching for missing connections. As for Bex (Simone Saunders)… ah, now that would be telling.

Co-directed by Kathy Burke and Scott Graham, I Think We Are Alone is more than just a series of monologues and duologues. It’s a splendid example of contemporary theatre, replete with beautifully nuanced acting and Frantic Assembly’s trademark choreographed transitions. A particular nod should be given to Paul Keogan, whose sublime lighting gives the piece a dazzling sheen.

This is thrilling stuff. Miss it and weep.

4.6 stars

Philip Caveney