Review | Laura Money
Beyond The Yard Theatre tackle a theatrical escape room in their one-room drama, Trust Me, It’s The End Of Our World After All – a clever title tat alludes to not only an apocalyptic setting but the caving in of the characters’ realities. Entering The Blue Room Theatre‘s Studio space through the thick bunker doors, the set designed by Owen Davis is dramatic and complex. Featuring curved walls and bunk beds, every bit of the structure feels legitimately like being in a bunker at the end of the world. Set against the backdrop of a mysterious virus and apocalyptic conditions, Trust Me, It’s The End Of Our World After All deals with family dynamics, nostalgia, and human nature in a pressurised situation.
At the heart of this show is a family drama – full of secrets, lies, and complex familial relationships. Strip away the bunker, the end of the world, the rationing and Virus X and it distils into a family who is distrustful of one another, yet wholly supportive at the same time. Writer Terence Smith has clearly taken some cues from childhood and coming of age, as Marcus (Liam Longley) doesn’t need the trappings of the bunker to tell his story. For him, it’s all about latent sexual awakenings, identity, and exploring his sexuality – culminating in acceptance. Trapped in the bunker underground for five years with his older sisters, Marcus enjoys a gay baptism by fire in the pressure-cooker situation that takes a normal queer teenager and heightens every element of his life. Longley perhaps plays Marcus a bit too naive, at times he comes across as babyish – the character does suffer from arrested development being trapped in a bunker for his teen years, but he was still not that young when he went in.
The entire aesthetic is a chaotic pastiche of nostalgia, from the Bowie records and vintage 80s and 90s stars adorning the walls to the obsession with Labyrinth and playing Monopoly (a perfect metaphor, as I don’t think I know any family who comes out of Monopoly unscathed) combined with glitchy video diaries of the character’s thoughts, everything looks like it’s yearning for a world pre pandemic. This is typical of Gen Z’s obsession with Millennials’ era (Friends is my favourite tv show, anyone?) but plays into the definition of nostalgia – the past is a foreign country and you can’t go back. Anyway, this millennial loved the vibe! In all honesty, the videos could be dropped, they don’t serve the plot and are seemingly in real time so don’t really help much. They would be much better if they were filmed after the events and were being replayed throughout but I understand why this can’t happen.
Holly (Bubble Maynard) does a great job of keeping everyone together. It is only when she loses the plot so too does everyone else. Maynard is a great performer, her portrayal of Holly is self-assured and strong – she’s a great character. As the tensions rise, however she does lose momentum and if she only explained herself a lot of heartache could be avoided. Carrie (Bianca Roose) is a typical younger sister – her energy knows no bounds. Always trying to prove herself, it’s interesting to see how often she still defers to Holly. Roose contains Carrie’s energy well, only unleashing the crazy in certain scenes. And then along comes Rich (Joe Haworth) swaggering into the piece like every YA novel cocksure antihero love interest ever written. His character is perhaps the most trite but played brilliantly by Haworth – if you want to get up and slap him, he’s doing a great job!
The conclusion of Trust Me, It’s The End Of Our World After All is a bit anti-climactic – the stakes could have been higher and the reasoning behind all the character’s actions bigger. Then again, the fact that is was really at the heart of the matter about family and the drama is contained within that framework is a clever snub to the environment, proving that despite how bad the world gets, it’s the issues that are close to home that are worth fighting for. Interpret the show either way, but you will definitely be entertained no matter what.
Trust Me, It’s The End Of Our World After All is on at The Blue Room Theatre until 3rd September 2022. TICKETS
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