Review: Forsaking Others, White Bear Theatre

John Patterson’s new play Forsaking Others at the White Bear Theatre asks how well do we really know anyone

“There are some strange people out there”

A curious one this. Writer/director John Patterson’s play Forsaking Others slots into the corner black box of the White Bear Theatre with a short and sharp foray into modern life that leaves as many questions hanging as those it attempts to answer. It proves thought-provoking at times but too often it veers over into puzzling.

Laura (Anna Bonnett) seems to be living the dream in a nice corner of south-west London. Handsome fiancé Michael (Louis Fox), partygoing friends, wealthy parents on tap, her biggest problem seems to be avoiding hangovers. But an unexpected buzz on her intercom threatens all that security as a woman called Jess (Christie Silvester) is determined to tell her what she knows.

It’s about a man of course – Michael, or Mikey as Jess knows him – and armed with a mountain of revelations, seemingly backed with evidence from social media, Laura’s sense of security is dismantled. Or is it? On being presented with a different version of events, who do we believe? Where does that innate sense of trust lie?

Patterson wants to probe into this but doesn’t quite stick the landing. There’s something fascinating about trying to identify that moment at which one starts believing a stranger over a lover but the unspooling narrative never grips here, silent longueurs feel awkward rather than dramatically suggestive or particularly thrilling.

The arrival of Michael/Mikey into the mix brings a much-needed jolt and what follows hints at something possibly more interestingly sinister but there’s a frustratingly abrupt ending that nips it in the bud. Similarly the social media angle feels underdeveloped, ideas of [the lack of] privacy feeling ripe for further exploration than they receive here.

Running time: 70 minutes (without interval)
Forsaking Others is booking at the White Bear Theatre until 18th June

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