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  • Henry Longstaff

Dare You Say Please - King's Head Theatre

Is your life more important than mine?

Nancy Farino and Leon Finnan stand face to face, staring at each other
Nancy Farino and Leon Finnan. Photography - Robin Kent


Two people stand in a room. Between them they must decide which one of them leaves with their life and which one will not. An impossible decision but one they must make. By asking this question Aimee Varani’s dystopian play forces a conflict, pitting human mortality against inner morality.

Staged underneath 1984-esc trailing CCTV and telephone cables, Dare You Say Please plays out in real time as Maria and Oscar weigh up the fatal judgement within the allotted hour. Teasing out details of the world outside, Oscar vents his frustration at the system that has placed them there - a future in which every 25 year old is challenged for their right to be alive. Maria voices concerns over who would look after her ailing father if she does not return, more delicately fighting for her survival.

The concept on display here is an interesting one as it has the power to extort character intentions and motivation placing them on full display, but sadly here it is rarely convincing. At no point did I believe that these characters were truly making such a devastating decision - the weight of their choice not sufficiently conveyed. This is in part due to a script that was unable to dig deep enough into the desperation of the characters instead opting for humour that clashed uncomfortably with the tone of the topic. The direction also struggled in blocking, either leaving faces obscured by the opposite actor or when finding intentional movement that suited the script. These combined hampered the performances.

Leon Finnan (Oscar) and Nancy Farino (Maria) do a fine job in delivering Varani’s words. Finnan as Oscar battles with regret and the consequences of his actions that have deposited him here, bottling his anger for as long as possible. Farion is more grounded and consistent as Maria, adding much needed authenticity as she resorts to pleading her case. Both performances however were left screaming for more urgency in the face of their predicament, for an intensity that was never reached.

Whilst this is an intriguing premise for a production, it never quite finds its footing. There is scope to develop this production further, refocussing on the core principles of what it is asking but in its current form it is passively underwhelming. Glimmers of humanity exist in this play and they deserve to be explored further.

Running till 11 March - Tickets

Photography - Robin Kent

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