Review: Living Quarters

Sophie Dickinson 6 November 2015

The student written Living Quarters had been billed as a black comedy; striking posters and intriguing plot descriptions promised an absorbing night at the ADC. There was certainly something brave about this performance, but whether it is fair to say it met these promises is debateable.

The initially interesting set design perhaps remains one of the highlights of the evening. As we were slowly introduced to the premise of the story (four girls wake up after a night out and attempt to remember what has happened), it was the most captivating part: whilst all four actors were convincing in a naturalistic sense, they were held back by some severely confusing directorial choices. As the dark elements of the narrative developed, the hysteria of the characters did not seem to correlate. Often, seemingly obvious plot holes became apparent, and thus the humour was tainted somewhat. Similarly, the gap between the set and the edge of the stage was often distracting- at key points, the apparently surprising entrance of characters was ruined by the fact we could see them waiting in the wings.

However, the audience did enjoy the humour of the absurdly practical elements of the plot- an obviously intrusive character claiming she could stay over until three in the afternoon was a personal highlight. Stella Pryce’s performance as Flo was noteworthy: her stage presence was confident, and the audience were evidently delighted by her well-developed character. Her nonchalance and hinted-at loneliness made the character extremely likeable; despite obvious flaws with the play as a whole, her performance was responded to warmly- even her facial expressions revealed a depth of acting talent.

It seems that the fundamental issue with this performance did not lie in the writing, nor was the acting poor. There was a problem in that the audience was told to believe that everything on stage was real; we saw the actors eating breakfast and drinking coffee. Yet certain elements (in fact, the most fundamental plot device) did not pertain to this naturalism, and therefore the audience could never fully immerse themselves in the story. The relationships between Sandy (Jemma Cleary), Chloe (Emma Veares)  Mel (Anna Snodgrass) and Flo were convincing, and the audience was interested in how the dynamic would develop over the course of the evening. However, the direction was flawed in parts, and I was left feeling unsatisfied with the performance.