We live in an age of theatrical excess and big presentation. Audiences have got used to lavish production values and heart-stopping drama, big action scenes and explosive performances. Four Sunsets, however, is brave enough to run in the face of such style over substance fashion and strip things back to the core. Without all those distractions it offers honest theatre, theatre based on dialogue, response, reaction, nuance, subtlety, timing and, you know…what’s the word….acting! And act these girls do, locking together like the various vocal parts of a barbers shop quartet, mixing and matching, competing and complementing, as the roles require.
As a plot line the story takes the four friends on a slow-burning descent into your worst fears without once resorting to cliché or artifice. From the frivolity and humour that provides the opening salvo of four friends holidaying together to the dark intensity of the final destination. Each of the four are ripe for the swan analogy of grace above the waterline hiding a variety of struggles in the churning water below that they have masked but finally reveal to each other. But one secret stands head and shoulders above the rest.
One night productions are always difficult, most longer runs take a few nights to settle into their stride and to get the pace and delivery right first time out is quite a challenge, a fact which made Ella Thomas’ crucial delivery upon which the whole play shifts something to be applauded even more. It was one of those moments when the world changes, that point at which the bungee rope reaches its limit and the world momentarily stops before hurtling you back in the opposite direction. Pin drop theatre at its best.
Difficult subjects can be presented in a variety of different ways, through humour, seriousness, grief, philosophical acceptance, compassion or denial, but to be able to run through the complete gamut of emotions is quite a skill to possess, within the writing but particularly as portrayed by this young and exciting cast.
If writer Peter Hynds’ bold and powerful style is the springboard from which this production is launched it is the actresses fluid arcs as they bring the characters to life that make it memorable. Not only the aforementioned Ella but her three companions Laura James, Becci Smith and Jodie Potter who make this a scintillating and often intense ensemble piece.
reproduced courtesy of The Swindonian