By Susanna Chilver, Third Year, Politics and International Relations
In March 2020, ‘What Wonder’ was set to debut at the Loco Klub. After weeks of rehearsals, hours of poring over the script and tickets already on sale, the performance had to be cancelled at the very last minute due to the impending coronavirus crisis. Finally, after more than a year and a half of patient waiting, the Winston’s curtains were finally lifted to a packed audience, eagerly awaiting writer-director Han Morgan’s production.
‘What Wonder’ tells two main stories of young people facing injustice – a trio of young adults, struggling at the core of their relationship due to the imminent death of a loved one and their associated remorse, guilt, anger; and a group of young women in ancient Greece, faced everyday with misogyny, discrimination, heartache, desperation, love and yearning.
Glory for this production should first be attributed to those working behind the scenes: the set design was a sight to behold, complete with a Greek temple wrapped in lemons and vines, bathed in warm sunsets and striking silhouettes.
Meanwhile, the modern-day story was assisted by a simpler stripped back set, confronting the audience with nothing but the tragedy of the characters’ predicament. The climaxes of the play were well met with all aspects of the production coming together in a satisfying, if not necessarily joyous conclusion.
At times, it was hard to draw thematic comparisons between the two stories – indeed, conflict and injustice is the premise upon which all plays rely on. The similarities between the plights of the the characters facing modern day tragedies and those facing historical political injustices were not particularly clear.
The archetypal struggles of young people were prevalent, and undeniably prescient, however there was space for all conflicts identified to be explored further and to slightly greater satisfaction. At times, the audience were left slightly unsure how to react to occasionally clunky writing and delivery.
That is not to deny the skill of the actors. An ensemble piece, the camaraderie among the cast played out in some of the group performances: notably Aké Kibona and Kate Hunter's characters' enchanting, secretive romance. Watching the wider group of Ancient Greek women talk all things life and love felt warmly relatable.
Stand out performances came from Ella Hakin, playing Lily, and Gabriel Adebiyi, playing Dexter. Both actors gave ambitious and heartfelt performances, rallying us on their plight for their relationships to remain intact, delivering complex dialogue in a play that was awash with many themes. Balancing a challengingly ambitious script, these two actors – and the whole cast – truly gave it their all.
'What Wonder' plays at The Winston Theatre until 20th November
Featured Image: What Wonder
Have you seen 'What Wonder'? Let us know what you think!