In The Depths of Dead Love
Print Room @ The Coronet, Notting Hill Gate
Cast Includes Stella Gonet and Jane Bertish
Running Time: 90 mins, no Interval
In The Depths of Dead Love by Howard Barker has recently been part of a heated conflict over the issue of “yellow-facing” and the use of Caucasian actors to play Asian characters. Barker has set the play in China, and given the characters distinctly Chinese names such as Mr Chin and yet all the cast are white, which has angered many. Barker has backed the casting decision, calling the play decidedly “western” and describing it like a fable. There have been protests which included 200+ people picketing the press night for the show.
The plot, however, is probably much less fraught than the situation surrounding it in the real world. It takes a long time to get going, and there are very few moments of tension within the piece, and the few there are are undermined by the exceptionally verbose and overly wordy dialogue. There is a case of far too much speaking about the action, and too little actually happening
The cast acquit themselves with the sparse material (there feels very little actual emotion even with the subject material) especially Stella Gonet and Jane Bertish. There are moments, however, when there is little the cast can do with the text and times lacking in the connection of other characters.
The set is also curiously lacing – spartan and minimalist, with only the central well and a couple of rocks and a chair. This lack of place makes it very hard to connect with the piece and makes one wonder if this is a result of the off stage drama
Summary: A slow play that is lacking in tension and dynamics. Despite a good cast cast this fails to excite. **