Theatre review: Archimedes’ Principle at the Park Theatre

Kathryn Worth Lee Knight and Matt Bradley-Thompson

Kathryn Worth Lee Knight and Matt Bradley-Thompson - Credit: Archant

A kiss is an innocent thing. So claims Brandon, the swimming coach accused of inappropriate contact, but in Josep Maria Miró i Coromina’s unsettling drama, innocence is constantly reframed by context.

Are we more likely to believe Brandon before or after hearing his unsavoury comments, or witnessing a locker search, or learning about the paedophilic incident at a local youth centre? ‘One issue has nothing to do with the other,’ protests Brandon – except, of course, that it does.

Coromina’s non-linear play, translated by Dustin Langan, spins conflicting narratives as it loops around. It demonstrates there’s no such thing as an unbiased view, and offers timely commentary on privacy rights, institutional loyalty and trial by social media.

However, the cyclical structure and long overlaps robs it of dramatic momentum. Coromina builds a sense of growing dread, but doesn’t pay it off. His 80-minute piece could be tightened to a crisp one-act, or developed much further.

Marta Noguera-Cuevas’s traverse staging reflects the emotional claustrophobia. Scenes are punctuated by a blast of children shrieking in the pool – a sound that switches between euphoric and alarming.

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Lee Knight’s buff, swaggering Brandon, slick as his hair gel, crumbles believably under pressure. The fractured relationship between him and fellow coach Matt (Matt Bradley-Robinson), whose admiration turns to revulsion, is nicely sketched: criminality is in the eye of the beholder.

But between their natural banter and a few evocative monologues is an odd, stilted style, perhaps too-literal translation, with swerves into melodrama. Kathryn Worth and Julian Sims, as Brandon’s boss and an irate parent respectively, fall victim to it: they’re more cyphers than people.

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Yet there is inventive exploration of thorny, taboo issues. Is our society losing its innocence, or are we just becoming aware of the monsters lurking in the depths? Coromina offers no easy answers.

Rating: Three stars

Until May 11.

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