Stepping out of the sunlight into the Bunker theatre, the temperature drops and the hustle of Southwark and the busy food market next door is silenced. It’s underground, intimate but slightly claustrophobic, and couldn’t be a more appropriate place to contemplate our isolation and dissociation in new play, ‘No One is Coming to Save You’. Presented by This Noise as part of Breaking Out, The Bunker’s new writing festival.
‘No One…’ follows two nobodies, two unconnected young persons, a man and a woman. Alone in the night, unable to sleep and with just a blaring television set for company. Until they look out of the window and see… and see.
Nathen Ellis’ writing taps into that strange space in the mind that opens out when you’re alone and awake in the middle of the night. At the core of the play is that sense of panic that bubbles just below the surface, and this is the time it is often most pregnant in our minds. Through Ellis’ characters, we see the capability of that panic to boil over, to burst out, and how our every day lives keep it wrapped up to fester. We can unleash the dread and unease that besets our 21st century lives but only in our minds, in our nightmares, in our fantasies.
The poetry of the language is vivid and transmorphic, imagine skin like an egg in hot oil, an image that really stands out. I felt like I could hear it crackle. Ellis captures a sense of space and a sense of height with exceptionally beautiful language, too.
The performers succeed in delivering director Charlotte Fraser’s slow burning pace. Planes, hot air balloons, open skies… Agatha Elwes captures a sense of distant hope as she dreams, remembers… which is it? We cannot tell. Whilst Rudolphe Mdlongwa feels heavy with responsibility in his limbs, his tone of voice. The character he portrays is not an easy one to warm to or get to know, it feels as though Mdlongwa has captured the essence of someone who does not want to be noticed. It is a skilled and strangely captivating performance.
The choice of designer Alice Simonato to set these two disparate individuals on a fake grass covered rostra brings the message clearly home, if we lose touch with what is around us. it all becomes fake. And yet to take one step away from what we know, is to step of a precipice.
If you’re heading to Edinburgh this Summer, you can take a slow burning and reflective journey by catching ‘No One is Coming to Save You’ at the Pleasance Courtyard.