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This review was originally written for The Public Review.

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/black-out-simulacra-studio-london/

Black Out is a collection of three short plays woven together to create a single show. The venue is rather unusual; a photographic studio in a converted railway arch and the occasional rumbling train adds to the character of the space. The title refers to the meshing of the scenes as the plays are interlaced, and it also refers to the endings of the plays. The synopsis of the show says the stories take place in one evening in London and the characters are interrelated but not necessarily in an obvious way. One of the plays, Ink by Martin Malcom is about a young man getting a tattoo at an acquaintance’s flat to impress a friend. This is a story about love, misguidedness of youth and perhaps unintended consequences. It is tender and raw at times but it is grounded in a gritty reality.

The second play, The Voice That Bleeds In, by Dan Horrigan features a married couple going through some rough times in their relationship. The couple addresses an off-stage therapist individually about their respective struggles with the relationship and each approaches the discussion in a rather oblique way. While their description of the symptoms of their problem and their frustration and unhappiness are clear, the real reason behind their behaviour is left deliberately ambiguous. The third play, When We Two Parted, by Nathan Cross is even more mysterious. The characters, named as Killer and Victim in the programme, meet in a room and are somehow related to each other. The briefness of the play adds to the mystique of it and the scenes are atmospheric and have a film noir quality to them.

The direction by Marta Noguera-Cuevas merges the scenes well and the cutting of scenes is not disruptive to the flow of the stories. The acting is good by the surprisingly large cast, given the characters from all three plays are on-stage for the whole 60 minutes of the running time. Although the attempt to weave them together is commendable, it is not entirely convincing. The plays are reasonably enjoyable and interesting enough and it is an innovative use of space for theatre.

Runs until 21st June

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