The View From Nowhere at Park Theatre – Review


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The View From Nowhere at Park Theatre – Review

Mensah Bediako (Prez, Dr PG Washington)

Mensah Bediako (Prez, Dr PG Washington)

Every day the news is full of things we should and shouldn’t do to stave off cancer, every decision we make seems to have some huge bearing on whether or not we end up suffering from this dreadful disease. So this play asks a simple question, if we are encouraged to control what we do in order to prevent carcinogens entering our system, then why is the farming industry so blasé about the chemicals it uses, seemingly wilfully blind to the health repercussions?

This is a play with an important message, but it almost gets lost by trying to make too many other important moral points, issues of race, class and fraud are also raised which means that sometimes in the tangle of all these things, the actual point of the play appears to be lost. The play centres around Prez Washington (Mensah Bediako) as a black, working class scientist, fighting against perceptions in order that his research into the negative effects of herbicide on human health can be taken seriously. Assumptions are made that his data is fixed to stand out because of how hard he is fighting to escape his past, but is it fixed by him or by his assistant, a Kosovan refugee Sandy Jones (Emma Mulkern) who is fighting for recognition from her mentor? And here we have the problem by placing doubt on the research to make a point about race and class, by calling into question the validity of the research, the message that these chemicals are bad for you also gets called into question. I think that by this point you are supposed to be so invested into Prez and Sandy that you trust them and you, therefore, discount the accusations of fixed research, but the poorly developed back stories and the forced relationship means that this just isn’t the case.

Nina Toussaint-White (Rona Worthing) and Math Sams (Dr Tom Pennington)

Nina Toussaint-White (Rona Worthing) and Math Sams (Dr Tom Pennington)

On the other side we have Rona Worthing (Nina Toussaint-White), a lawyer working for the chemical companies to discredit the science, although her motive is never really explained. Meanwhile, Dr Pennington (Math Sams) is the ineffectual ‘independent’ scientist who just believes in science.

Whilst I think he was supposed to be the voice of reason, he came across as a little pathetic. What I liked about this play was that it didn’t treat the audience like they were stupid. The science was, I’m sure, diluted, but not to a childish level. Scientific jargon is explained and then used regularly and, for the most part, it was clearly understandable although sometimes I think the dialogue needed to be slowed down a little in order to give the audience time to process the science.

Ideas of scientific rigour, peer review, and validity were discussed and the audience were mostly trusted to draw conclusions from this. It was refreshing to see a play about science where we were allowed to think.

The set was clever, a series of white circles on the floor which the characters stood on to speak, like they were being placed in the spotlight, like what they were saying was of the greatest importance but needed to be evaluated. However, the positioning of these circles, combined with the ‘in the round’ audience meant that characters had their backs to the audience for significant amounts of time, or the actors were blocking the view of other actors on stage. This didn’t really affect the message but it was irritating.

Overall, this is a play with a lot of potential, it has an important story to tell and a good script, but in trying to make too many points the main message is lost and I haven’t come away particularly concerned about the chemical industry like I was probably meant to.

3 stars

Review by Emily Diver

Random Thoughts Limited in association with Park Theatre presents the World Premiere of
The View From Nowhere
By Chuck Anderson
Directed by Dan Phillips

Prez is a brilliant biochemist. His experiments show a leading herbicide is carcinogenic. He has an existential fight against entrenched interests on his hands – not helped by the fact that he wears dreadlocks, dresses like David Bowie, and carries a chip on his shoulder as big as the sink estate he grew up on. In his heart he knows he’s right, but can he prove it?
From the creative team behind Warehouse of Dreams.

The View From Nowhere
By Chuck Anderson
Directed by Dan Phillips
PARK90
Plays: 27 June – 22 July 2017
https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/

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