Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
THE SOUND OF SILENCE – Simon & Garfunkel
PREFACE: In Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg’s novel Nightfall, a world that has six suns and never known night undergoes a rare eclipse that takes place once every 2,000 years. With no understanding in living memory of what ‘night’ is and not practised in the use of using fire or anything else for light, the world is plunged into darkness in more ways than one. Civilised behaviour comes to an end, unravelling centuries of progress… Even in our ‘enlightened’ times, the fear of the dark is still present and while the neon glow of cities ‘pollutes’ the skyline and hides many stars, it’s considered a small price to pay when one considers the alternative. Taking the universal fear of the dark as a jumping off point, Engineer Theatre Collective have devised and built from the ground up a play where true darkness organically takes place and where despite rational minds at work, one’s senses are to be doubted…
Co-written by Zoe Hunter-Gordon and directed by Jesse Fox and George Evans, The Gap In The Light follows Hana (Ellie Isherwood), a ceramics PhD undergraduate who secures the services of Ethan (Simon Lyshon) for a spelunking expedition to an underground Mayan site. Initially all goes well, but once a ‘cathedral’ has been discovered – along with human remains from centuries ago – the party begins to doubt what they see and hear…
Asides from the primal fear of the dark, the play highlights other concerns such as alienation in the modern word – expressed with Hana’s fear of being left alone and Ethan’s admission of being estranged from urban modern living. The second half of the play explores very different fears, those associated with modern living…
Back in London, months after the events of the first half. Boyfriend Dan (Archie Backhouse) has been as supportive as he can to Hana after her trip. However, despite counselling, she suffers from moodswings, occasionally behaving erratically. Whatever peace of mind and confidence she may have had initially, she left it behind in the darkness. Then are the echoes of the past that are bleeding through to the present, making her question her sanity. These becomes more intense as the very real fears that accompany the state of being pregnant begin to surface…
With its grounding in science and history, unexplained phenomena and prophetic hints, Engineer Theatre Collective’s psychological thriller is very much inspired by the work of Nigel Kneale (creator of the Quatermass series) whose ‘speculative fiction’ often fleshed out the innate terror from things in everyday life.
It’s only once the play has finished and the audience lets out a collective sigh that one realises how tense and invested one has been over the past two hours. An experience guaranteed to stay with you long after the performance.
© Michael Davis 2017
The Gap In The Light runs at New Diorama Theatre until 27th May 2017