By Tansy Adam
On a Tuesday afternoon at the unusual setting of the Holy GrAle out on Crossgate, Fourth Wall Theatre Company led by co-directors Ellie Fidler and Charlie Howe whisked us away to the brilliant hazy world of May Contain Traces of Nut; an original play by Celestine Stillwell. The play explores the relationships between a close-knit group of friends as well as the protagonist’s relationship with himself, two of his close friends and with drugs.
The location of this production was unusual for a DST performance and created a brilliantly immersive atmosphere that I feel should be explored in more shows within DST. Audiences were under the illusion of being in a basement, and the wonderfully naturalistic set and use of tech really made you feel as if you were in the room with the characters; this worked especially well when actors moved around the space closer to the audience, such as when they reached for various items in the fridge. The choice to double cast the parts of Shaye and Mia was simply hilarious as Honor Calvert and Scarlett Carter subtly slipped into place, causing an extremely intoxicated Ben Johanson that he was mad. This additionally allowed the audience to experience the level of distortion that the character in his state would have felt.
I would like to commend the entire ensemble for a wonderful performance with each actor bringing their own personality to the characters that they were playing; this meant that as the actors changed throughout the play, we could see different interpretations of the same character. I would, however, have liked to see a little more of Alfie Cook, who played the role of ‘Digger,’ Shaye’s toxic boyfriend as I really enjoyed the moments that he spent onstage as well as his strong chemistry with Bella Chapman during their extremely moving argument scene. The standout performer of the afternoon was undoubtedly Ben Johanson as the central character ‘Freddie.’ Johanson’s portrayal of Freddie’s journey through his high was simply hilarious, and his brilliant use of voice, facial expressions and physicality made the performance entertaining and engaging. With this said, he also managed to convey more serious emotions and themes with sincerity and they did not feel out of place or unnatural after moments of such high comedy.
Overall, this was an extremely enjoyable immersive experience and the entire prod team, cast and the writer should be extremely proud of this innovative piece of theatre. Without giving too much away about what the performance entails, hold on to your hats because the turbulent nature of the play continues right through to its conclusion… or lack thereof.
Image credit: Fourth Wall Theatre Company