Review: The Deep Space at the Old Red Lion theatre

Originally published at Islington Now.

L-R: Lila Whelan (Caitlin), Oliver Yellop (Liam), Abbiegale Duncan (Sam) and Sarah Fraser (Kay). Photography: Sprocket Theatre.
Left-right: Lila Whelan (Caitlin), Oliver Yellop (Liam), Abbiegale Duncan (Sam) and Sarah Fraser (Kay). Photography: Sprocket Theatre.

The Deep Space is a dark, moving tragedy of domestic life with a haunting intimacy that lingers with the audience long after the four actors take their final bow.

Described as a “modern horror story”, the play centres on the conversation between two women in an interrogation cell – Caitlin, a psychiatrist, and Sam, a mother whose family has died in a house fire.

Caitlin’s role is to uncover the truth about their tragic deaths, but as the play unfolds both women find themselves plumbing the depths of their darkest, most personal secrets. In the intimate space of the Old Red Lion theatre, the audience cannot avoid being drawn in.

With a starkly minimalist set, the play relies entirely on the compelling power of the script, which skillfully tackles the emotional complexity of each woman’s experience, and poignant performances from lead actors Lila Whelan (Caitlin) and Abbiegale Duncan (Sam).

Shifting smoothly between flashbacks and the present moment the small cast builds a convincing portrait of Sam’s life before the fire with two supporting actors doubling up as her mother and father, friend and husband.

The Deep Space is deliberately uncomfortable viewing taking in dark, heavy themes with uncompromising psychological realism. The audience hardly has time to get their heads around one disturbing revelation before they are confronted by another, and it is impossible not to feel emotionally involved.

Full of twists and turns – some more predictable than others – the play ends with both characters noticeably changed and one question left unanswered. I was left pondering this last secret for rest of the night.

Writer Lila Whelan, who plays Caitlin, has created a striking, heartbreaking debut with The Deep Space.

See The Deep Space at the Old Red Lion Theatre Pub, St John Street, until Saturday 9th March

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