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The Body Of An American at The Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

There was a moment for me right at the start of The Body Of An American that left me wondering if I had overstepped my intellect to come and see this play. After having traipsed through pretend snow and seated myself on my unreserved seat in what appeared to be an Underground tube tunnel (very well named). I was challenged to understand the opening, fast, frantic exchange of conversation between William Gaminara and Damien Molony.

Following an overwhelming collection of images on the screens at either end, the two performers set to one another in fast and frantic conversation, myself understanding a little of it, and concerned that I was being stoopid in not keeping up.

Thankfully quickly, either the play began to work for me, or more importantly maybe, my brain kicked into gear, because all of a sudden I was living the story.

The play is probably one of the most stripped back you could imagine. Two people, two chairs and two screens depicting photos and video, occasionally harrowing. However it all worked. Although the two actors were undoubtedly the stars of the show, those chairs offered quality support, depicting chairs (unsurprisingly), vehicles and a sledge, while being liberally thrown about the performing area. Also the use of light and sound was excellent coupled with that magical click of the fingers.

The story, based on true material and events was very cleverly constructed, challenging Gaminara and Molony to the extreme with multiple characters and accents. I truly never cease to be amazed by the memory of these performers, true stars, rather than those retake kings we hear about.

Weaving about, the play offers challenging thoughtful ideas of the viewer, culminating for me in the ultimate scene towards the end of the telephone call between Paul and the brother. A scene that must either bring a lump to the throat, or a tear to the eye. For my part, it was just me sweating and I shall stick to that story.

Summing up, a sharp, occasionally very witty play, that will make you think a damn sight more than the next episode of whichever soap you wish to name. You could do yourself a favour and go and see it, but be quick it departs on Saturday.


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