Review: Drink Me

Naomi Wood 11 May 2012

Drink Me

Corpus Lateshow, 9.30pm, until Sat 12 May

It is in the nature of being a student that one is constantly confronted with the ‘big questions’ of life, in the lecture room, the common room, and of course the theatre. Expecting originality after thousands of years of thought is a high bar to set for any production, but while ‘Drink Me’ is an ambitious attempt to confront such concerns as the nature of God, sex and power, it fails to provoke any fresh perspectives and thus leaves no lasting impression.

In Robbie Aird’s new piece of semi-surrealist writing, four people wake up in a dark room together, chained to the walls and fixated by the sight of a drink just out of their reach. Only a silent prison guard seems to prove the existence of the outside world. Their longing for the drink, the power relations between them and, most of all, their questions about the unknowable provide an obvious springboard for our own discussion of the philosophical. While at points this was only hinted at, at other times it was unavoidable: a discussion on the nature of ‘HIM’ (cue all characters stare upwards, discuss the nature of someone they cannot see and their relationship to him) does not leave much work to the audience. Such conversations in the already cliched dark room felt patronising and overdone.

There is much that is good about this play. Its extreme physicality is effective, with both Juliet Griffin and Olivia Emden providing particularly eloquent performances in this respect. Griffin’s twitching, wandering hands and Emden’s harsh grimaces were, however, let down by some sloppy action that could only aspire to simultaneity. The comedy was received well by a particularly giggly audience, and is perhaps one of the more disturbing, and therefore successful, aspects of the play. Against the vivid, often sexualised, violence, the rendition of the first line of ‘The Circle of Life’ and other bizarre juxtapositions provide the audience with an unexpected but much needed release that does much more to question reality than the play’s pointed conversation.

‘Drink Me’ is a play that attempts a great deal, but ultimately remains the overly earnest play of student drama stereotypes. As the house lights turned on, everyone waited, unsure whether this was part of the play, an interval or the end – surely a sign of the anticipation of more that the play kept reaching at but just missing. The audience leaves the theatre disturbed by the make-up, sound effects and violence, but inwardly unperturbed by the questions that the play hopes to provoke.

Naomi Wood