Conflicted Theatre’s Fiji is a morbidly quirky two-hander between Nick and Sam. We are drawn in as we witness them meeting for the first time. There is a rawness and intimacy as a wet-haired Nick enters the room and it feels like we are also complicit and an unspoken part of their relationship. What appears to be a slightly awkward and unconventional first date takes a shocking turn. With hints at the characters’ back stories, it inspires the audience to psychoanalyse and question the two whilst also empathising with their situations.
The writing is witty, fluid and dynamic as it explores taboo topics with ease, without forcing opinions. It switches between highly personal moments and more casual chit chat, which are both subtly emotionally charged.
Pedro Leandro is impressive as gawky, ethereal Sam. He is extremely natural and instinctive, with tender smiles and defensive bursts, portraying a psychologically complex individual without revealing his past.
Eddie Loodmer-Elliott plays Nick, a nursery teacher with a smiley facade but he is driven by an underlying inner angst, a stark contrast to Sam. Loodmer-Elliot’s delivery is stilted at times but he also has some powerful, heartfelt moments.
Evan Lordan’s nuanced emotional direction is superb. I felt really invested in their journey and was rooting for them as a couple.
The episodic styling of the play was effective but got lost in the weak transitions. The movement direction was unimaginative and could have been a lot sharper which would have built on the electric dynamic between the two.
The set designed by Emma-Jane Haskey had a strange, eclectic feel to it which was brought out by the dim lighting as the audience enters. Decorated with personal memorabilia and items on shelf in opposition to plain table with a fruit bowl. I wasn’t sure about the use of tarpaulin on the walls, it gave an unsettled, unwelcoming feel which I found too revealing.
This brave and original piece of theatre is worth watching. From exploring vulnerability and the extremity of emotions in relationships as well as how past experiences can lead someone to take unthinkable actions, there is plenty of food for thought in Fiji.
Fiji continues until the 25th March, https://www.omnibus-clapham.org/fiji-2022/
Reviewer: Riana Howarth
Reviewed: 9th March 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★