In a Land Much Like Ours
Korova Café Bar, Preston
A domestic drama is ideally suited to the dark confines of the upstairs theatre at Preston’s newest performance space.
The audience are so close to the cast for In a Land Much Like Ours that it would be possible to pass them a handkerchief - for their tears - without even leaving your seat!
The grief is tangible and intimacy and immediacy are easily achieved in such a suitable setting.
Jane (Laura Lindsay) and David (Andrew Roberts-Palmer) are mourning the killing of their daughter, but coping with its aftermath in very different, and probably gender-stereotypical ways.
In the midst of all their grief however is a third character – Richard (Adam Urey) the child’s killer, a disembodied being with whom Jane ‘converses’ while David attempts a more detached analysis of the man’s motives.
It is an intense and complex piece of theatre, that sometimes feels a little too hemmed-in, not least by its studio setting, and certainly by its 60-minute running time.
A little more time is needed to understand character motivation, or to absorb the folk legend of Jack the Giant Killer that is cleverly threaded through the narrative.
Writer Rob Johnston – whose Einstein’s Daughter was performed at the Continental in Preston last year – again demonstrates a skilful ability to construct instantly-plausible characters and give them humane and articulate life.
The performances are equally measured, especially that of Lindsay, harbouring the brittle grief of a mother.
Director Sam Buist manages it all with distinction, particularly as he has launched this Korova venue, and the forthcoming Preston Tringe theatre festival, all at the same time.
A minimal amount of props, which suggest children’s over-sized building bricks, juxtaposed with actual infant toys, play with the story’s sense of scale and prove its author has the ability to up-size such forceful writing.