Tim Cook won Best New Play at Brighton Fringe 2015 for his play Crushed. Blackout is his second play, described as part psychological thriller, part post-apocalyptic musical. So far, so intriguing.
We meet awkward Mark in his messy flat, strumming his guitar and calling his girlfriend’s voicemail. Tracy crashes into the scene as his loud new neighbour, complaining about the noise of his guitar playing. These mismatched characters are forced together by a blackout; Tracy talking a reluctant Mark into letting her stay in his flat until the lights come back on. Except they never do. When the sun fails to rise in the morning, the tale takes a sinister turn as these strangers face the end of the world together, in a block of flats in Stockport.
Tim Cook plays the part of introspective Mark having also written the play and composed the musical interludes which join the story together. Amani Zardoe is well cast as Tracy, the astrophysicist with an ‘overactive imagination’. The two actors play well together and are convincing in their roles.
The theatre at the Drayton Arms is a good venue for this play set in a small flat with just two characters. The set is simple; a bed and two chairs. The lighting is, predictably, low, as the actors creep around in the darkness of the flat. The lack of distractions keep the focus on the language and the character development. The small theatre helps with the feeling of being trapped in a room in the dark.
This play asks lots of questions; why have the lights gone out? Where have the sun and moon gone? Where has Mark’s girlfriend gone? What will the end of the world be like? As Tracy says “it’s not supposed to be this way, there are supposed to be explosions, and dragons”.
Only one question is answered as the play ends abruptly, making for an unsatisfactory feel. But it certainly raises some interesting topics and presents them in a clever way.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Blackout is playing at the Drayton Arms Theatre until 17 October 2015. Click here for tickets