Theatre Review: Mosquitoes @The Dorfmann Theatre
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The audience is seated in the round, and the idea of being observers of an experiment comes to mind. The set designer Katrina Lindsay has created an impressing circular set, that manages to both give the sense of scientific sterility, but at the same time work as framework for engaging believable living room scenes.
Blank faced anonymous scientists drag furniture in and out as the scene changes. This makes a great jump between being totally engaged in the acting, and then suddenly thrown back out ready for a new scene, a new experiment.
Lucy Kirkwood has written a funny, but heart-breaking story about differences.
Olivia Colman delivers a magnificent performance as the “stupid” sister, Jenny, born into a family of scientific minded geniuses. With a mother Karen (Amanda Boxer), who is a known pioneer for female scientists, and a brilliant sister Alice (Olivia Williams) who is a highly skilled physicist, Colman’s character has grown up always being told how stupid she is.
What arises in the audience is the question; if Jenny is as stupid as she acts, or if she has decided to act stupid, as a form of rebellion against her family?
The chemistry between the two Olivia’s, Colman and Williams, are strong, and there is never a moment doubting the love, and frustration between the sisters. They keep colliding in their opinions and world views. Smashing together in their differences, always stepping on each other’s feet in their attempt to understand and be understood.
In the middle of this is Luke (Joseph Quinn), the 17-year-old son of Alice, who is struggling with being English in a school filled with people speaking French. Though gifted with a brilliant mind, he is not the best at social interaction.
The scenes between Luke and Natalie (Sofia Barclay), the only other English person in the school, beautifully illustrates the fear of being different, that is so abundant in the adolescent, and makes the audience cringe and laugh in remembrance and recognition.
As a parallel to the family life, a scientist (Paul Hilton), lectures the audience on the universe in a deliberate condescending demeanour. This is also the man who seems to be orchestrating which collisions we see. When and where in the history of the characters we jump in.
The scientist (Paul Hilton), who is, though never said, the long lost mentally ill husband of Alice, goes to the extreme examples of talking about the possible ways the universe can end.
The audience is completely drawn in as this “end of everything” monologue is complemented by the beautiful light and circular video design by Fin Ross and Ian William Galloway.
This is an ambitious play that doesn’t just focus on life as we know it, but on the overwhelming curiosity and need to understand and be understood that is part of being human.
As an audience member, you are taken down an emotional journey with the characters, and at the same time wondering about life and the universe.
As the play ends by jumping 100 years into the future, it touches on how one specific thought is necessary to give humans the will to survive: “Next time I will do better”. Though a high ambition, Rufus Norris has directed the wonderful actors in "Mosquitoes" in a way that touches, ticks all the boxes and lingers with you.You can find out more here: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/mosquitoes