The premise of this piece intrigued me, and was enough to convince me to see it the day after I first heard about it. That premise, however, barely seems important after the first few minutes as the narrative gives itself over to something that could conceivably work with any back-story. That said, this is, by no stretch of the imagination, a bad play, and everyone involved has talent worthy of commendation.
The script needs some work, and a couple redrafts, but the makings of an excellent script is there. As it stands, this is still a good script, at least in terms of dialogue. Dialogue is a core strength of this piece and the writer clearly has a knack for writing believable and effective speech. Plot is where it falls down a bit. It’s something of a struggle to follow exactly what is going on in this play. As mentioned above, the core premise of everyone knowing the date they are going to die seems unimportant after the opening monologues. Following that, this premise is barely touched upon as a standard YA novel plot plays out of a group of young societal outcasts living in secret opposition to a totalitarian state.
I feel the premise of Deadline could be easily changed to pretty much anything and it wouldn’t make much difference to the main body of the piece, aside from the odd inconsequential reference here and there. The individual characters are well-written however and, coupled with the already mentioned dialogue, give this script that certain glint of promise that you know signals a writer with potential. It would only take a slight redraft of the script, focusing more on the specific implications of this specific society, smoothing out the pacing, and axing some unnecessary repetition, to bring that potential to fruition.
The acting, I must say, is pretty stellar, Stephanie Overington, Clara Moschetta, and Efe Uwadiae are particular standouts who give engaging and emotional performances. All the cast could stand to work on projection a little, especially over the air-con of their venue, but their delivery of the dialogue and chemistry as a cast really helps push the action of this show along where the script is a little slow and repetitive. Overignton and Uwadiae are particularly strong in their scenes together and successfully create a relationship an audience can invest in.
I found myself questioning whether the pieces of physical theatre were necessary or indeed appropriate for this piece, impressive though the physicality of certain performers, most notably Moschetta, undoubtedly is. Though nice to watch, it feels a little shoe-horned in, and doesn’t do enough to inform or augment character and narrative to have really earned its place.
A little incoherent in terms of plot, this is still a well-acted, emotively effective play with strong character and dialogue and a cast that can carry it to the finish easily. Most certainly it is probably still a play worth seeing, and a play with a lot of heart behind it.