Review: Apocalypse Laow
Image courtesy Artshole Productions
Dominic Crisp - Seaman Apprentice Noah
Ray Strasser-King - Sergeant Gunnery Jesus
Gabriella Marguilles - Petty Officer Eve
Billy Dunmore - Lieutenant Isiah
Paul Hillar - Captain Gabriel
A US nuclear submarine crew who, having gone through and been part of a nuclear apocalypse one month previous are now slowly going insane as they try to survive with each other hundreds of feet below sea level.
A sixty minute Tour De Farce through the darkness of the human psyche.
A crude dark comedy brought to you by Artshole Productions.
A quick glance at the synopsis above pretty much tells you both what this show is about, and the slant it takes on a political and human disaster.
It also points you in roughly the right direction that it is, largely, a comedy and a pretty blunt one at that which pulls few punches in what it's describing.
But it would be wrong to completely pigeonhole this play as 'just' comedic and offering little else in the way of insights about human beings and their preoccupations when put in a uniquely difficult, tortuous situation.
We only meet 5 of the multitude of the crew which we'd expect to run a nuclear submarine.
That lack of realism in numbers can be readily forgiven, and perhaps we can even stretch our imaginations to a time when an entire submarine can be run by such a handful of people - perhaps reinforced by AI and some natty robots to do the legwork.
In fact, the LED lighting strips which predominate in the scant stage design here, seem to indicate that we may be in the realms of the future.
Whatever - we can easily live with focusing on a crew of 5, which comprises one woman and four men.
Politics on the surface have contrived a nuclear war and the crew of this enormous metal fish have dutifully despatched their devastating weaponry, and they now believe that the planet is a desolate wasteland encased in nuclear detritus which means they have to stay in their undersea tomb 'til ... well, forever, I suppose.
So what do humans think about and what do they do when they're left trapped in this kind of situation?
Captain Gabriel has decided that formalities - like addressing him as Captain - can be dispensed with, much to the chagrin of Dominic Crisp's Apprentice Noah who would much rather stick with regulations and titles.
But those customary naval niceties really count for nothing, since there's something more powerful and immediate on the minds of the whole crew than what to call each other.
And what's on their minds is sex.
When that surfaces, it leads to a sequence of events and revelations that turn out to be humorous but also highlight other considerations such as tolerance and the rights and needs of individuals.
Apocalypse Laow is something of a slow burner initially, but once sex enters the situational equation the pace and humour pick up substantially and there are some explicit and very funny scenes, sometimes with little left to our imaginations.
Dominic Crisp's well-written script provides an off-beat focus on a dire predicament, and Alice Kornitzer's commendable direction finds space for more moving moments, even if they sometimes get subsumed under the weight of the forthright comedy.
And there are engaging performances from a cast who handle the rather candid moments with capable ease and authenticity in an entertaining play with plenty of novel, comic ideas to convey.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Katzpace Studio Theatre
Our show listing for Apocalypse Laow
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