Daylight - Rose and Crown
Visions of the End of the World at Camden Fringe
Julia has had a vision. At 3.31 pm the world as we know it will change. Nuclear warheads are going to forever alter the landscape of Britain and there is nothing they can do to stop it. Connor is the only one to believe Julia and has converted his late mother’s basement into a makeshift shelter - a place where they can wait out the years for the radiation to subside. But how reliable are Julia’s visions and can they really sit by as the world around them ends?
Nestled in the basement of the Rose and Crown in Camden - a near-perfect setting that adds eerily to the ambience of this production, is Daylight, a new play from author Helena Coggan. The piece charts the hours leading up to the potential apocalypse as Connor and Julia discuss all that has brought them to this moment. There is nice, natural dialogue between the characters but there are unfortunately a wide range of issues holding this play back from being anything more.
Time is the core problem at play here. There simply isn’t enough space in the 55-minute runtime to effectively explore all of the themes and story on display and because of this, the plot is merely discussed and never properly explained. For example, the threat that they face on the surface is incredibly vague from beginning to end. It was only from reading the play’s synopsis that I was able to establish that it was a nuclear threat, but even then that leaves more questions than answers. It is incredibly difficult to have any investment or feel any tension if an audience does not understand what the peril entails. Equally the whole notion that Julia has these premonitions is not made clear and therefore we are once again left with confusion where there needn’t be. It is not a case of wanting answers to all the questions but an audience needs some rules and truth to hold onto in order to connect with a narrative.
Lara Cosmetatos (Julia) and Isaac Allen (Connor) do what they can with this script and they are able to create charming moments where their relationship feels authentic and comfortable but equally they often look lost in the space not knowing where to go next. They have their work cut out in channelling all the emotion and tension from the text, but without a solid foundation supporting them, it is a challenge.
With its incredibly abrupt ending, this feels like a work-in-progress performance and I hope it is. There is some quality substance and talent within this creative team, so I would love to see it developed further because once the basics have been secured and the scope refocused this could make for a quality evening of theatre. That being said, with its current form and vision, maybe this would be better suited as a novel where the plot can unravel over hours rather than being condensed into a short play.
It runs until 6 August as part of the Camden Fringe and 15-28 at the Edinburgh Fringe