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The System - Review

The Original Theatre company are continuing to take advantage of the new hybrid theatre and film medium and with “The System” they were more ambitious, took more risks and it really paid off. It is a one-woman play written and performed by Emily Head, in her writing debut, which was performed live with what is believed to be the longest steadi-cam shot every attempted in a live theatre broadcast.

The play itself is a psychological thriller based around a murder investigation. It all takes place in the interrogation room and the audience slowly comes to understand it’s about more than just the investigation. Certain parts of the show require the elements of theatricality to make it work but the camera was used in a way to make it more ominous than would necessarily have been achievable on stage. And certain information given becomes clearer and more obvious because of the way the camera is used.

The camera often puts the audience in the role of the police asking questions and all the characters are played by Emily Head, who is familiar with both stage and screen performances. She said they needed to have distinct characterisations so you could see when she moves to different characters and so you don’t think it’s “just Emily doing another voice”. They successfully achieved this as each character was so distinct and it almost felt like a showcase of her acting range and ability. My only comment on this was that there were so many characters it was difficult to keep track of them at times. They said they had reduced the number of characters in advance which was right as they were at the limit of how many could feasibly be shown.

When commenting on the show the company said they wanted to do something fresh and original and they have achieved that aim. It’s a unique and unexpected story. It paired a great acting talent with a director (Guy Unsworth) who understood how the story could be enhanced using film. And I am impressed they chose the daunting task of going out live for this performance. I would highly recommend seeing it not just for the great story but also for the powerful performance by Emily. Given this new medium, you now have the ability to do so. While the first performance was live you can watch on demand from September 8th until December 22nd by clicking here.

Rating: 5 Star


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