Holden Street Theatres - The Arch. 17 Feb 2013.

‘Breaker’ is a Scottish translation of an Icelandic play entitled ‘And the Children Never Looked Back’ written by playwright Salka Gudmundsdottir. This production, directed by Graeme Maley, stars Scottish actress Hannah Donaldson and Scottish/Dutch actor, Finn den Hertog.

The one act play takes place in a school on a remote island where Daniel (Hertog) comes to investigate his genealogy; the place where his grandmother grew up. Consumed with nostalgia and myths of the ocean his search is disrupted by Sunna (Donaldson) a school teacher, who coincidentally happens to be coming to terms with the sadness of a horrific event, born out of the very same legends Daniel seeks.

Both actors presented with great focus and intensity, but it was difficult at times to understand dialogue through their heavy Scottish accents; particularly where colloquialisms are in abundance. The minimalistic set (which consists only of a large box centre stage) unfortunately trapped the actors into two locations; stage left and stage right. The characters – strangers to one another on first meeting – rotate in a repetitive circular motion around the large box which was a little frustrating to watch. Unfortunately the set design didn’t really allow for anything more, and so was limiting in itself; a passionate embrace at the climax of the show brought the two characters together on the same side of the stage and offered short relief; a seat or chair might have helped to break up the monotony of the movements and offered some opportunity for levels to be established during important moments of dialogue.

Sound design by Andy Cowan was poignant and appropriate. Barely noticeable when it was engaged it aided in building and establishing tension effectively. The lighting was very blue and a little dark, making it difficult to make out the faces of the performers from the middle of the auditorium. The centre of the stage was lit much brighter, but the actors spent so little time there it only served to highlight the large box.

The story took a little while to really get started and wasn’t aided by the confusion caused by the actor’s accents. I felt that the motivations of the characters often seemed a little unnatural – why didn’t Daniel just leave when Sunna, a complete stranger, starts verbally attacking him and putting him down so viciously? The characters intentions seemed occasionally to be flawed, their motivations perhaps not written or conveyed strongly enough. I think the piece has a lot of potential with further exploration; for now though, a work in progress.

Paul Rodda

When: 18 Feb to 17 Mar
Where: Holden Street Theatres – The Arch