Alexzandra Sarmiento makes a striking solo directorial debut at the White Bear Theatre with intriguing new play We’re Few and Far Between
“Do you know why you’re here now”
A very interesting one this. OG West End Hamilton cast member Alexzandra Sarmiento makes her solo directorial debut with a highly creative take on this puzzler of a new play by Claudia Vyvyan. From the pulsing electronica of David Cottle’s score that fills the White Bear theatre even before the (metaphorical) curtain rises to the sharply defined lines of Yijing Chen’s design, the promise of something exciting is heavy in the air.
And this production of We’re Few and Far Between really does deliver. It is the kind of play that it is best not to know too much about in advance (even if that pre-knowledge doesn’t necessarily help you) but suffice to say, it is a two-hander that tracks a relationship between therapist Tobias and patient Penelope. As Tobias tries to get to the truth about crime(s) that may have been committed, Penelope’s reliability as a narrator calls into question what it is we think we might understand, particularly where power dynamics are concerned.
Georgia Vyvyan is strikingly good as Penelope – a thrilling stage presence full of uneasy edge and tipping on the brink of mania (the way her laughs go on just a little too long…), calling to mind nothing so much as the brilliant Ruth Wilson and her iconic work in the first series of Luther (comparison are reductive I know, but it is uncanny!). And there’s powerful work from Luke Cinque-White opposite her, as dual tracks of storytelling unwind different facets of a mystery, pushing towards what may be the truth.
Even over the space of an hour, Claudia Vyvyan’s writing unravels its intent in a satisfyingly slowburn manner. But it is the creative space that Sarmiento creates for the play that really makes it sing with intense theatricality. Though there’s naturalism in the way she directs her actors to speak, there’s stark switches in Adam King’s gorgeously saturated lighting that delineates shifting emotional states and that score from Cottle sets the energy of a voluable mood in which a sometimes troubling story emerges. Talent to watch all round.