After three tours in Afghanistan, Jess finally returns to Florida. In a small town on the Space Coast, as the final shuttle is about to launch, Jess must confront her scars – and a home that may have changed even more than her. Experimenting with a pioneering virtual reality therapy, she builds a breathtaking new world where she can escape her pain. There, she begins to restore her relationships, her life and, slowly, herself.
Es Devlin’s set is half a dome, walls curved upwards and in this crater Fleetwood stands and when Luke Halls’ video projections start to appear, we are shown a map of snow-covered mountains where Jess can run and frolic to her heart’s content. The flip side to this is Jess’ home life with her sister, their mother, her sister’s boyfriend, Jess’ ex boyfriend. But it’s only the VR world that’s captivating.
Despite the fact it is Jess’ story at the helm, we are never given the chance to full learn about her or the people closest to her. Kate Fleetwood gives a wonderfully layered performance but never shows what she is truly made of. Instead we are given snippets of her emotions and well being. The same goes for her sister, Kacie, an excellent Olivia Darnley, whose most revealing line is ‘I am barely holding it together.’ and then walks off stage, never getting the opportunity to explore either of the women’s rage and desperation at their situations.
Steve, Jess’ ex and Kacie’s boyfriend, Kelvin, on the other hand, are given ample time to explore their emotions. Steve, Ralf Little gives him just the right amount of panic and enthusiasm, discusses how Jess was beautiful before her time in the army and how he may still love her. Kelvin, a loveable but suspicious Kris Marshall, defends himself to a distrustful Jess and lays out his life plans to her. For a play about a woman and has a rare women majority cast, it is the men who do all the talking.
Lindsey Ferrentino never takes the chance to explore women in the army, post-traumatic stress disorder particularly in the case of returned soldiers, despite the fact her leading character is a woman in the army who has just returned home with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. An epic disappointment.
For showcasing VR technology, and informing people about this pioneering treatment for patients, the production is skilful. In terms of character depth and development, on the other hand, it’s a two-dimensional case, in spite of the best efforts of the cast.
Playwright: Lindsey Ferrentino
Director: Indhu Rubasingham
Set Designer: Es Devlin
Lighting Designer: Oliver Fenwick
Music and Sound Designer: Ben Ringham and Max Ringham
Costume Designer: Johanna Coe
Video Designer: Luke Halls
Movement Director: Lucy Hind
Fight Director: Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown of RC-ANNIE Ltd
Company Voice Work: Charmian Hoare
Cast: Kate Fleetwood, Olivia Darnley, Ralf Little, Kris Marshall, Buffy Davis, Marianne Adams, Katy Brittain, Tom Peters
Photo: Mark Douet