British playwright John Donnelly’s THE PASS, which premiered back at the Royal Court in London in 2014, asks one of those quintessential questions.
How important is it, in life, to live authentically?! Especially when considering how easy it is, in contemporary life, in our technologically savvy age, with everything that is available, to fake it.
And even more so, considering there are so many temptations that exist, which challenge our commitment to live authentically. Such enticements as fortune and fame, and the precariousness of both.
In THE PASS, we follow star British soccer playerJason’s odyssey.The play starts with Jason spending a night in a hotel room in Bulgaria with fellow player and friend, Ade. It is the night before a big game. There is plenty of testosterone and high spirits in the air. They’re horny. In a matey way, they talk about all the hot women they would like to shag.
As the night wears on and they get steadily more drunk, things get frisky between them. They wrestle with each other. At one point, they face each other directly, in close proximity to each other, and it looks as if they are going to kiss each other.
Jason and Ade do play the big game the following day. Jason, however, carries with him the memory of the night before. If anything would have happened, and worse if anything had gotten out about it, Jason is certain that his reputation and career, which he has fought so hard to build, would be jeopardised.
Ed Wightman’s production serves the drama well. Hamish Elliot sets the scenes well, three stylishly laid out hotel rooms, over three distinct time periods.
For clarity’s sake, I would have liked some sort of display, maybe a small digital screen hung above the stage, specifying the time frames.
One other reservation I had. Wightman’s choice of getting the actors to use the original British accents. Accents are always tricky. Was it really necessary?! THE PASS is one of those universal stories. It could so easily be about an Australian football star.
Wightman wins good performances from his cast of four.
The role of football mega star Jason is a great role to play, and Ben Chapple makes the most of it. Through the play Chapple sweeps across the stage as the menacing, abusive Jason, overblown with insecurities and contradictions.
Deng Deng plays Ade, Jason’s friend and teammate. Deng gives a cogent performance in the role, and, like with any good actor, one can tell what his character is saying without any words being said.
Cassie Howarth plays Lyndsey, a tabletop dancer, who tries to hustle Jason in the play’s second scene. Howarth is convincing as the sexy, single minded white female.
As is Tom Rodgers as airhead starstruck hotel porter, Harry.
In the play’s program, dramatist Donnelly wrote, “Figuring out who we are is no longer the preserve of philosophers. It is a full time job for all of us”.
Really?! As much as one hopes for this, is it truly the case? Aren’t many of us simply too busy coping with day to day living and the many challenges that life throws us! And isn’t there just so much pressure to conform with present thought lines that it is difficult to be content with our own, personal truths?!
Like any good dramatist, Donnelly, with THE PASS, gives audiences plenty to think about.
Recommended, Fixed Foot and Seymour Centre’s production of John Donnelly’s THE PASS is playing the Reginald Theatre at the Seymour Centre until Saturday 6th March, 2021.