Watch This theatre presents: ‘Method’, a new play by Ben Norris

DavidMethod was written and directed by twenty-one year old Ben Norris. One might think after watching this play, if this guy is writing this at twenty-one, what is he going to be writing when he’s thirty? The sheer scope of converting script to performance is achievement enough.

The play highlights the extremes of method acting, a technique used by actors where they immerse themselves in the physical and emotional feelings of their character in order to improve their performance. In this case, the main character James glues his eyes shut in preparation for an audition; the role of a blind man. Norris has captured the theme of sightlessness throughout as the characters seem consistently blind to what is going on around them. Paradoxically, the young child named Josie, brilliantly acted by Rachel Thomas, seems to be the only character that can truly see.

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The relationships in the play were believable, if at times a little over-sentimental. Daisy Edwards, who played James’s mum Sandra, played a truly convincing walked-over mum figure, right down to posture and tone of voice. The opening scene, where a relationship between a man and woman begins after meeting in a restaurant was both beautifully written and performed. Nicole Rixon’s character persuasively morphed from a confident, knowledgeable woman into a struggling single mum.

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The main cusp of the play is the broken relationship between the two brothers, James and Nick. Jealously seems to be at the core of this and Norris’s reflection that the characters are ‘blind to how to help themselves’ seems ever more pervasive. My criticism is that the resolution of the brother’s relationship does not seem realistic. After James’s eyes are glued shut, Nick is so relieved that his brother will be okay that they hug and play thumb war. Although the reversal back to their childish games is effective, it is not particularly convincing. The horror, however, of what James has done overrides this. It is sick, shocking and admittedly entertaining.

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Overall, this play raises current, thought-provoking questions involving the pressures of the acting industry, broken family relationships and betrayal. A combination of live theatre and digital film projections, especially, makes this play original. The film projections, by filmmaker Paul McHale, were incredibly realistic; strikingly shot and directed. The contrast of live acting and watching the actors on film created an appreciation of seeing them live. It plays with the theme of blindness once more as at some points in the play you are shown everything and in some scenes, nothing.

By Rebekah McDermott @RebekahMcD1

Photographs by Charlotte Wilson Photography

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