A piercing family drama seen through the eye of a philosopher’s lens
Family dramas are the cornerstone of theatre. Nothing packs a dramatic punch like a group of mismatched relatives coming together for an occasion. You know it’s never going to end with fond farewells and promises to share the vol-au-vont recipe.
Screaming Secrets’ set piece is Antonio’s birthday party where long held family tensions are unleashed in a cacophony of bitterness and tragedy. The mid-70s setting further magnifies the Pinter associations, although this birthday party doesn’t need strangers to inject the menace.
Twisting between melancholy, comic and downright tragic, the show interweaves philosophical threads that help pull together the play’s moral compass.
Philosopher Antonio (Jack Gordon) is grappling with his masterpiece and the meaning of life, while his frustrated writer girlfriend Monika (Triana Terry) clings to him, desperate for him to deal with real life and marry her.
Their row is diffused by the first party guest – Antonio’s “only friend” and his doctor, Simon (played with a compelling poise by Ben Warwick), who is half way through the first bottle of champagne when Antonio’s father and sister arrive, fresh off a turbulent flight from Italy. Their arrival signals the beginning of a bumpy ride for everyone.
We know before Alessandro’s arrival that his is being sued by his employees, many now dying due to diseases caused from working as his factory. Alessandro (Jack Klaff) wants to by-pass this problem and hand the family business to Antonio, who is reluctant yet conflicted.
But this problem is soon dwarfed by another, larger, sadder discovery when Antonio discovers his hypochondria might not be in his head after all.
Writer Alexander Matthews, himself also a philosopher, delves into life’s bigger questions: how are our morals altered by the shadow of death? And what does it mean to protect our loved ones? Should we be altruistic to the point where we actually hurt others?
Screaming Secrets is a well-paced drama, with energy and verve that perhaps doesn’t give you the big takeaway it promises to deliver, but will get you musing on the injustice – as well as the meaning – of life.