15 December 2021
4.5 out of 5.0 stars
With a huge amount of luck I managed to catch a performance of Manor. It’s a shame the rest of the production had to be cancelled due to Covid, it really is an intriguing play with a beautifully designed stage and a passionate cast.
The entire stage setup is somewhat wonky, giving off an air of unease and disrepair. With a looming staircase that begins with a few very wide steps which narrow and lean in different directions as it winds its way upwards, free-standing stained glass windows that are angled sideways and also narrow towards the top, leaning away from the audience and towards a dark wooden doorway. Everything is slightly misshapen and juts out at odd angles, bringing a delicious sense of foreboding to the mansion design.
The story unfolds quickly, a woman with an abusive husband and rebellious daughter who sides against her, an awful rainstorm that leads to flooding, other people from the area seeking refuge at the huge mansion. Things quickly spiral out of control when a few new visitors appear, having gotten stuck in the flooding and looking for a safe place to spend the night. Their leader turns out to be a far-right activist seeking to restructure society. Characters clash and threats turn to violence in a very tense situation, while the storm continues to rage outside.
This play is a wild ride of emotions and convictions, throwing up many questions that it doesn’t seek to answer. Intense and thought-provoking, I hope it gets the run it deserves at a later time, it’s an important and current topic that needs more explorations like this one that leaves the thinking up to the audience. Beautiful and haunting!