As the lights go up we meet Richard, an aspirational young photographer, and lecturer Graham. It's not clear for some time what the relationship is between them, but a tension hangs in the air; there's a contrast between Richard's awkwardness and Graham's mature ease. During the course of the play, which is made up of three sections, we come across four further characters. But how do they all connect, and what did actually happen in this Forever House?
This is Glenn Waldron's debut play, set in his hometown of Plymouth, and considering that he's a newcomer the script is astonishingly good. Using Mamet speak (a style of dialogue named after the work of playwright David Mamet, whose characters would frequently interrupt and talk over one another), the script is well-written and highly naturalistic. Of course, for this technique to work, it has to be executed accurately by the actors - and here they do exactly that, with excellent timing. The conversations appear fresh and real, with an exciting sense of pace; interruptions help build the tension and awkwardness which is so integral to the play's themes.
Forever House uses simple staging, yet there is a definite sense of the passage of time. Some serious topics are explored along the way, but the playwright intersperses this with some very amusing comedy - particularly featuring the character Becci. A strong cast ably manage the shifts in atmosphere, and it is fair to say that this is very high calibre acting; I found myself immersed in the story and drawn in by each performance, thanks to the subtlety and realism in each of the actor's interpretations.
On the debit side, there's a slight lack of originality around the character-building: Waldron does resort to stereotypes to a certain degree. But the actors capture these personas beautifully, and do include a few added dimensions - so overall, the piece evades the charge of feeling too obvious.
This is a production which will hold your attention; it has an air of mystery throughout, yet is easy to follow. While it's neither ground-breaking theatre nor the most original concept, it's an exciting piece to discover. I would definitely recommend Forever House, and I'll be watching the future of this playwright and these actors with interest.