REVIEW: This is a Trap Don’t Go (The Waterside Theatre, Whitworth St, Manchester)

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reviewer: Megan Hyland
upstaged rating: 

This is a Trap Don’t Go is a student acted and professionally directed performance piece inspired by actual events. It explores disturbing aspects of what has now become everyday life, such as kidnappings, conspiracy theories and scaremongering in the media. The piece itself spans around forty-five minutes, during which we see the characters theorise over who is behind the seemingly harmless attack on a plastic flamingo, ranging from the government to aliens disguised as humans to terrorists.

However, from this point onwards, the piece completely loses its audience as it tumbles into repetitive absurdity. The next thirty minutes or so is an unengaging jumble of dramatic techniques that add nothing to the piece and cause it to lose what little momentum it had built in the opening minutes. What follows has no connection to what was a promising start, and takes away from the ability it had to make an important statement about society and the media.

There is no narrative beyond the beginning of the piece, leaving the audience confused and often groaning in disappointment as the same techniques were used over and over. This in itself was a waste of the obvious talent of the cast, who powered through the tiresome minutes with unflinching effort and personality. They brought an excellent humour and energy to the performance, but I can’t help but feel that their talents would have been better suited to a more engaging and thought-provoking production.

Richard Young, Lauren Greer and Luke Riley, in particular, stood out in this performance, with their brilliantly dry humour and pure determination being the only thing that made the piece bearable. Their characters, though underdeveloped, were still entertaining and exciting when they were allowed to showcase their talent. Their success, however, was due to their vitality more than the writing, which lacked originality and depth.

The set and costume design (by Angela Wayland and Carol Wilson) managed to draw the audience in from the start, with its colourful hues and sparkling background. Although it gave the piece more personality and originality, it was seemingly unlinked to the piece itself and seemed only to serve as a distraction from the fact that very little was happening narrative-wise.

This is a Trap Don’t Go was unusual, funny but mostly hit-and-miss, leaving the audience in a state of confusion and boredom. It lacked the desired effect of wanting to make a serious point, and although this could have been the reasoning behind the seemingly random techniques, if this was the case, it wasn’t made apparent enough for it to make any impact and only left the audience disappointed and wanting something more.

-Megan Hyland