Other than the fact that it had won awards for design and that it had transferred from the Royal Court, I really knew nothing about The Nether when I sat in my seat at the Duke Of York's Theatre ready for curtain up. It's nice to do this occasionally rather than having to do a mountain of homework before watching each show. What an interesting and very different experience I was treated to!
The Nether is compelling viewing. The story takes place in the future, in a place where virtual reality can be used to escape from everyday life. The particular virtual reality used as the main stay of the play is a place called the Hideaway created by very dodgy entrepreneur Sims (Stanley Townsend). The Hideaway is a place where people can go in their various virtual guises to abuse and kill children. Doesn't sound good does it? Well, it is brilliant. Although uncomfortable to watch, this one Act play really is a masterpiece of design, direction and acting. The performances from all were scarily real and believable, but most noticeably from Isabella Pappas who played the part of Iris on the night I watched. For a twelve year old girl to be able to put on such a mature performance when playing in something with such difficult themes was remarkable.
The set too, was fabulous. A country retreat complete with lush trees and bird song were recreated on stage as the backdrop to the Hideaway.
So, did I enjoy myself? Enjoy really isn't the right sentiment. This is very uncomfortable viewing but done so well, that you can't help but feel like you've witnessed something extraordinary.
By Nicky Sweetland
The Nether is booking at the Duke Of York's Theatre until 25 April, 2015. Book your The Nether tickets now!
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