The sound of Tracey Chapman singing Talkin ‘Bout a Revolution indeed prepares the audience for what is to come. Mad Forest tells the story of what happened before, during and after the Romanian Revolution including the real-life statements from people that were living through the revolution. It portrays an array of perspectives through these times with insight as to how it affected the people caught up in it.
The stage at the Old Court Theatre provides the perfect setting for this play. Intimate enough to capture the audience yet large enough to cope with the complicated text and what that involves.
With 11 in the cast, many playing at least two characters it almost seemed overwhelming at first but once the stories/scenes developed it took off with a real punch. The transitions between each scene were all very well executed. Having the cast remain on stage throughout the whole piece was essential and the costume and prop changes were slick and barely noticeable.
All the actors were committed to their individual characters each and every time they appeared and through the first half, really gave a sense of the desperation and fear they were living through as well as a sense of family relations. They all really must be congratulated on immersing themselves into such chaotic piece and bring these stories to life. A mention must go to Richard Dawes as he created seven different characters throughout the play and each one was absolutely perfect!
The end of the first half changed in mood and kudos to Tom Tull for his direction of the Verbatim theatre section as it really packed a punch. With very little movement and the cast being on the edge of the stage it brought an intensity that reflected in what the actors were saying. With some extremely emotional dialogue and the national anthem sung so patriotically, it was very moving.
I loved the lighting design created by Jack Hathaway that gave a backdrop of the Romanian flag, flanked by large pictures of Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife. Lighting throughout was great and sound effects timed well and helped to embellish the scenes.
Tom Tull has really taken time to understand Mad Forest and that shows in this production. His dedication, along with the rest of the cast has created a thoroughly moving, thought provoking piece of theatre.