Tuesday, October 3

Hive – Assembly Roxy

Hive is show that feels like it has big things to say. It wants to talk about corporations building monolithic skyscrapers and the consequences of that , how people can be displaced and forced to move out of their homes, the way grief can impact our lives and relationships.

Hive tries very hard to communicate these things, but unfortunately it does not communicate them well enough. The setting is an abandoned housing building with Mother Ria (Elin Doyle) being brought in to investigate a “hive” of some description along with her child, Salve (Emily Millwood), after they where expelled from school and there’s no one Salve can stay with while Ria works. The play also features a third character, Craig, the site manager who joins Ria on her journey to the hive while Salve makes their own way up the skyscraper. Craig is played by Doyle at points, and also at points by Millwood. This is where my issues with Hive start, I find it odd that a character who Ria spends almost the entire show with, and makes significant impact on the plot, does not have their own actor. Combined with having both characters voicing the inner monologue, and also sometimes playing Craig during these segments, it gets quite confusing to follow who’s actually saying what to whom. A difference given in the vocal performances, or even a minor change in costume would’ve helped, but the inner monologue also provides more issues.

Almost the entire plot and sequence of events is told to us the audience instead of shown through Ria and Slaves perspective. There are some nice pieces of movement, the set consists of a lone ladder rigged with some LED light strips, and a light bulb hanging off it, but at no point did I ever feel like they where in a deserted building on a sci-fi adventure. That was not for lack of trying however, this shows saving grace is it’s lighting and sound. There are some gorgeous colour palettes and strong uses of the lights, there is a moment where the stage plunges into darkness and is only lit by a small lantern which contrasted well with all of the blues and purples the stage is bathed in largely throughout. The sound as well created an atmosphere that was prominent and strong, but in the end it can only do so much when the rest of the show lacks.

And then we come to the hive, the thing the show is named after. You would expect to learn something about this eldritch creature but again we are just told that it is there, and any description we are given is vague as is it usually is with lovecraftian-esque beings, with no visual representation given at all. I feel like I would’ve enjoyed this much more a as short story, I don’t think the show had bad ideas or it was a bad story, it just was incredibly hard to follow when we have to imagine every single environment they are in that is constantly jumping between two perspectives, and try and glean deeper meaning from the dialogue. There is no problem in telling the audience what they are supposed to be seeing, it can be done well and can create wonderful theatre, but Hive falls victim to big ideas that couldn’t be delivered on.

The scale of the setting and the world is too big for a small scale production to handle, and it’s worse off for it. It felt like a show that needed more time to develop its world and convey its meanings.

Reviewer: Euan Huth

Reviewed: 15th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.