Director Rosa Garland describes No Man Ever as a play about a “messy love square”. Landing Light Production’s upcoming play concerns entangled relationships between four people in the lead up and aftermath of a wedding.
After having seen a preview, I think it only fair to say the play concerns four people, rather than four characters: the naturalism of both the acting and the text is superbly nuanced, lending the production a very human feel. This is no doubt facilitated by Jonny Wiles’ mature script which specifies the roles as only “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D”. Creating a web of complex relationships which leaves deliberate spaces (such as names, ages, genders), allows both the actors and the audience to project themselves into the drama with startling ease. As I watched the scenes I could not help but feel like I was watching something already quite familiar. This may be explained by Wiles’s process which involved recording one-liners overheard in Pret or on the train; the text is unerringly believable to the point of feeling like reportage. The result promises to be honest, intimate, and incredibly beautiful.
Actor Marcus Knight-Adams, who plays “C”, explains how Garland encouraged all the cast to find ways to access emotions in the play with reference to their own experiences and past relationships. From the scenes that I saw, the result is incredibly promising: balancing specificity against universality. I was especially impressed with “A”, played by Callum Coghlan, whose understated resignation at a failing relationship was heartbreaking. Moreover, the result is a show that is quietly radical: the cast were selected based on characteristics and personality above all else, and as such the gender expression and sexual identities of the characters emerged naturally as a result of the plot and the selected actors. Queer relationships appear respectfully on stage, normalising the representation of non-heterosexual relationships.
Wiles’ script apparently specifies: “there need be no set, props, or mimes”, a challenge which Garland has embraced. The production is stripped of many stagecraft conventions (the actors wear their own clothes as costumes, there are no lighting changes etc.) to create work that is wholly and intensely focused on human interaction and language. Garland and her cast have set themselves a difficult challenge with this sparseness. This suits Garland’s directing style which draws from her own experience as an actor. Any tendency towards overacting has the potential to compromise this delicate effect, but the scenes I witnessed gave me confidence in Garland and her team. This is a production which boldly embraces limitations and is unafraid to tackle the difficult, small, and vital moments which make us human.
No Man Everis on at the Old Fire Station on Tuesday 12th June at 7.30pm.