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This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/rift-zone-new-diorama-theatre-london/

A gentle guitar music accompanies the audience as they file into the auditorium and moves into a folkish song as the show begins. A promising start along with an endearing and potentially lovable first five minutes that soon loses its way in fragmented narrative.

Here is a family of mother, daughter and son who live in Iceland. One day the over enthusiastic daughter meets an American who may or may not be a mythological god who lives under the sea holding a seismic rift apart. He also has a day job as a geothermal energy executive. Along the way, the daughter finds out she may have been sprung from a rock. The son is obsessed by a sword and has dialogue with the most famous Icelandic poet who sprouts nothing but encouragement for misdeed.

Let’s start with the positives. There is a beautiful song ‘Find My Bedrock’ backed by an acoustic guitar. The actors are competent and passionate and only guilty of having taken part in the devising of the piece. The problems start with the lack of distinction between the story of the family, as it also doubles up as a nordic saga. The family story arc itself has the potential to be an informed commentary on modern Icelandic social issues. It is bursting with ideas and stories yet all too quickly digresses into a fictional plot of personal issues. Although there is intelligent writing in individual lines, when they are strung together, it becomes incoherent and muddled, as clear as the dimly lit set and stage.

The same lack of clarity characterises individual scenes. The sharp sword coveted by the son is represented by a wooden sword on stage. Yet it is wielded as if it is, well, a wooden prop and all the stabbings and violence amount to nothing. It works if they are mythical creatures. But are they? And all the time these myths are built up, they are knocked back down with a slightly too loud rock/metal song pouring scorn on all the mythological nonsense.

Maybe the point of the show is to highlight the complete lack of direction and confusion in Iceland. Maybe Iceland is a place where mythological beings double up as geothermal executives. However, it is doubtful that this is the case. It is a shame that good research has gone into making the show and it is a genuine attempt to highlight various issues and stories. The music and one or two scenes are well crafted but these sadly get lost in the rest of the mess. Perhaps as the show is devised, suggestions and ideas are left in and grew out of hand while a stronger directorial grip from Rich Rusk may have steered it back into cohesion. And as much beauty, music and folk lore Iceland has to offer, it cannot be easily found in this show.

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