Review: The Beck

Eve Rivers 9 March 2016

The Beck is a haunting tale of family history that details the struggles of three siblings as they deal with the declining health of their senile father and the decline of their beloved family home which is crumbling all around them. The play speaks as much in its silences as it does in its dialogue with the things going unsaid between the siblings hanging over them and the audience as much as the set which curves in on the family, sheltering them from the outside world, but also closing them in. 

The set is a triumph, and Jack Parham deserves much credit for the two shelving structures that occupy the somewhat small corpus stage, the wallpaper effect on the walls, also very much sets the scene and transports the audience from the corpus stage into the family home that is being portrayed. Hannah Machover, who skillfully plays Violet, the shrill divorcee who mothers not only her surly teenage daughter Beth (played expertly by Daisy Jones) but everyone around her, uses this space to full effect, her presence filling the corpus stage with melancholy. 

Madwoman Cecilia, portrayed delicately by Martha Murphy, drives most of the action of the play with her antics creating most of the black comedy. The first instance of her madness is revealed to the audience when she leaves a dead bird on the kitchen table, saying that she wants to paint it. This madness pulses throughout the play, something that the other characters do not speak about but only interact with, in turn emphasing the madness of Cecilia even further. 

Charlie, played by Benedict Flett, arrives as the aloof brother who has no interest in the house but only in the money that it can provide for him. He arrives with his rich friend and music producer Patrick, whose awkward prescence is skilfully captured by Joe Pieri, who has an interest in buying the family house. This interest is taken as an affront by Violet whose vision of the house is encaptured by the Beck, which is constantly alluded to as being a family focal point for fond memories. 

The unease and sadness that fills the family scenes is well juxtaposed with the intensity and escapism of the Mariana scenes in which she sings about the woes of love, a good performance  being delivered by Amber Reeves Pigott. The credit for this purposeful direction is owed to Louis Rogers, whose direction allows the space to be used to its full effect and writing to shine through. 

This a formidable piece of student writing that I would thoroughly recommend to all, the subtle interchanges of emotion leave the audience wanting more and my only criticism is also praise in that the ending was unclear, in that you felt that it was unfinished but it also left you wanting more. I encourage everyone to go to Corpus and experience this wonderful play for yourself.