30 March 2018
Pomona leaves Joanna Trainor unnerved, and needing a wee
“Can I have 100 nuggets?” “Don’t be a dick.”
For a play largely about the never ending cycle of violence, it is oddly impossible to look away from Nottingham New Theatre’s production of Pomona.
Maddy Strauss has perfectly captured the feel of the piece with her direction. When the world is falling apart around them everything is clinical and performed with a military precision, and that comparison creates a classic dystopian atmosphere. It may look organised on the surface –characters marching in rows in the shopping centre – but there is a primal, visceral underworld that holds all the power. Strauss makes sure we are on the edge of our seats throughout the play; even if we’re laughing it’s still bloody unnerving.
There are so many stunning performances and scenes but Kate O’Gorman’s Keaton commands the stage; I have never seen a performer with such a sinister focus. She silently sits and waits at the sides, before pin-pointing the exact right moment to glide across the floor in purposeful lines and diagonals that feel reminiscent of the Queen on a chess board.
Alistair McDowall’s dialogue for Keaton is short and to the point. She only picks words that are necessary, and O’Gorman makes it clear that she is completely in control of what is happening.
Jonny Khan’s Charlie is another standout. Unable to make eye contact, Khan’s body language is so twitchy and insular that Charlie is constantly walking the line between endearing and terrifying.
Wait, I need a wee...
The constant repetition of dice being rolled, and that idea of luck or fate deciding how people’s lives turn out or when they end, is a very powerful image for the audience. It may originate in a Dungeons and Dragons setting, but it has this ominous and nagging presence.
The only thing to say is that two hours and fifteen minutes is just too long for a festival show without an interval. Audiences have got used to 90 minutes max, and any longer you risk them switching off, and they definitely don’t want to miss this.
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Photo credit: Aenne Pallasca