With a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe under their belts Chalk Line Theatre bring Sam Edmunds’ Testament to the Hope Theatre for four dates this October. Edmunds also skilfully directs this intriguing and fascinating piece of theatre which is bursting at the seams with challenging themes and attention to detail.
Following a car crash, in which his girlfriend died, Max attempts suicide. On waking in hospital, he believes Tess (Hannah Benson) is still alive, a result of a brain injury he has sustained. While his brother (William Shackleton) and doctor wrangle over guilt, Max slips deeper in to the world created by his own mind, a world where his girlfriend lives, and both Jesus and Lucifer have plenty of advice for our young protagonist.
In a company formed of recent graduates from East 15 Acting School, the quality of the performance is strong, particularly from Nick Young as Max, his portrayal of the young man on a downward spiral is gritty and frenetic, his body twisting back and forth like the memories he’s struggling to pinpoint, he is hugely compelling to watch. David Angland’s modern day Jesus – a cross between a gameshow host and a psychotic drug dealer – brings much needed levity at all the right points, as does Daniel Leadbitter’s Lucifer, most notably in the nightclub toilet scene.
While Testament relies on the absurd to make its point, it is grounded with a solid and believable premise, the medical scenes, which see the cool and professional doctor (Jensen Gray) explain Max’s situation certainly sound plausible, and the apparitions of biblical figures are subtly explained early on. There are, in the scenes based in reality, just the briefest of moments where you find yourself questioning an action or a response, but never to the point that it doesn’t make sense.
Sound and light come together beautifully to create a look which is visually sumptuous, you feel very much drawn in to Max’s delirium, almost experiencing it first-hand as strobe lighting and uncomfortable sound effects create moments of confusion and bewilderment. It feels like there’s always something happening, and your eyes find themselves darting back and forth across the stage as another piece of imagery erupts from nowhere.
Testament is a fresh and bold piece of new writing, beautifully performed and presented. It’s easy to see why it was so successful at Edinburgh Fringe, and London audiences will surely heap just as much praise on this brave new piece of work.
Testament is at The Hope Theatre 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th October 2018.