Review: Edgar and Annabel, National Theatre

As mentioned in the main review for Double Feature 1, of which this is the opening play, the less you know about Edgar and Annabel in advance the better, as this really is one of those watching experiences that benefits hugely from being allowed to unfold in front of us without any forewarning. So this is your last warning, I will try to avoid too many spoilers but if you’re thinking about going to see this, stop reading (and then come back afterwards!)

Sam Holcroft’s tightly-crafted new play takes place in a land gripped in a police state, with people under constant surveillance in their own homes, where a brave few are attempting to stand up to the ‘Orwellian establishment’. In their kitchen, young married professionals Edgar and Annabel go about their daily business, but it is soon apparent that not all is what it seems.

The way in which this couple interact, given their entirely unique situation, is just fantastic: Kirsty Bushell and Trystan Gravelle bring great life to these people struggling to deal with the rules that govern this space yet having to find a way in order to keep on living the way they do. The sparks of real emotion that fly between the pair make theirs a story we really engage with, and even as events take a darker turn, we remain invested. There’s super work too from Karina Fernandez and Tom Basden as a friendly couple who come over for chips’n’dip and a game of SingStar (hearing Gravelle sing badly is tough, it is good he gets a better opportunity in DF2).

But in amongst this story, Holcroft has also touched on something deeper, about the creation of identity and how the roles we all play and the relationships we develop can actually defined and manufactured. Lyndsey Turner manages to balance the different elements of the show to make a most satisfying piece of theatre, Soutra Gilmour’s end-on set fitting perfectly in the found space of the Paintframe and whilst this review is probably too enigmatic to make much sense, trust me when I say it is most definitely worth it.

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