Tuesday, May 28

Farm Hall – Richmond Theatre

For a limited run only, Farm Hall opens at Richmond Theatre this October. Inspired by the true events that took place at Farm Hall between July 1945 and January 1946, the play tells the story of six of Germany’s top nuclear scientists – including three Nobel Prize winners – who find themselves locked in a country house in the Cambridge countryside, having been captured by the Allied forces.

The show opens with a sharp, loud telephone ring, the audience’s attention immediately drawn to the action on stage. The cast are all present and relax into their positions for the first scene. This gives time to take in the rustic and historical set, a living room and dining area for which the entire play takes place. With limited forms of entertainment, and no insight to the outside world, this is the place the six men have to create their own amusement and discuss their broken homeland.

Lighting is used with fast, classical music to create effective transitions between scenes and sets up the next scene for a possible change in mood and tone. Dim lighting and dull colours are used throughout the performance, reflective of the event happening outside the house which aid as a constant reminder to audiences of why the six men are there. The choice of music creates an authenticity and contributes to the dramatic effect. The script provides for some comedic moments throughout the play, which also helps to break up each scene. Julius D’Silva in particular makes the most of his character, his comedic timing and line delivery impeccable. However, some elements of dialogue feel slightly lengthy, and the content becomes lost.

Sound effects are mostly used well during the performance and well-timed, although at the end of Act 1, when we discover that the Americans managed to build an atomic bomb and use it against Japan, the explosion sound was a little underwhelming and delayed. The artistic choice to have the light slowly fade from the stage is interesting, as going to a blackout would be the obvious choice.

As this is a piece based on a real event, it feels as if the script does not intend to explain the plot to the audience. However, unless the events are familiar to you beforehand, the first few scenes are a little difficult to follow as the plot and why the men are captured in this house is a little unclear.

It takes some time to be immersed into the body of the plot and the drama behind the situation. However, once the audience’s attention is focused, the play is gripping. Although generally the body was quite linear and one dimensional, there are some dramatic changes in tone and performance.

Overall, this place is a somewhat engaging piece of theatre, with clean and characterised performances from each cast member. The play deals with some hard-hitting subjects and battles with doing what is right for your country and what is right for your family.

Farm Hall is showing until Saturday 28th October 2023 with more information and tickets to be found at: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/farm-hall/richmond-theatre/

Reviewer: Maani Way

Reviewed: 25th October 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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