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article imageReview: Unreachable starring Matt Smith mixes comedy and tension Special

By Tim Sandle     Jul 23, 2016 in Entertainment
London - A new play 'Unreachable' is currently running at the Royal Court Theater in London. The play features former Doctor Who actor Matt Smith, and the script was unusually developed during the play's rehearsals.
Unreachable is an 'experimental' play by playwright Anthony Neilson, who is known for his evolving dramas. The story revolves around a film director, played by Matt Smith (Doctor Who), who is on an obsessive quest to capture the perfect light for a movie he is currently making. As time marches on, the director's inertia become more apparent and his self-control begins to slip.
Theater bill for the play  Unreachable .
Theater bill for the play 'Unreachable'.
The play is showing at London's Royal Court Theater, which is at Sloane Square.
London s Royal Court Theatre spelled out  signage from the bar area of the venue.
London's Royal Court Theatre spelled out, signage from the bar area of the venue.
The play opens with a young actor called Natasha (played by Tamara Lawrance) auditioning for a movie that's to be called “Child of Ashes.” This is a film set in the near future after a virus has killed off most of the population.
The stage of  Unreachable  - representing a stark film set - just prior to the play starting.
The stage of 'Unreachable' - representing a stark film set - just prior to the play starting.
Unreachable is a play about the creative process, but don't let that put you off, for comedy, dramatic tension and despair are served up in equal measure. This is helped by the fiery dialogue and strong acting. Allowing the actors to develop the script adds a naturalistic air to some of the interactions.
The development process was open and democratic. Moreover, social media was used to engage with the intended audience. Throughout rehearsals, online content stemming from ideas the company experimented with were uploaded as videos. This gives audiences, as well as those unable to see the play, a special insight into the process of creating the work.
Theater ticket for the play Unreachable  featuring Matt Smith.
Theater ticket for the play Unreachable, featuring Matt Smith.
The play also develops with each performance for the actors are allowed to ad-lib with each performance. During some of the comedic the actors sometimes struggle to hold back their laughter. Polished this isn't; but raw and powerful it certainly is.
As good as the play is, it was a gamble for a big name like Matt Smith to return to the stage in such an experimental production in an arts theatre (albeit one close to London's West End.) The gamble has paid off, and Smith's versatility as an actor is on show. Here Smith is powerfully enigmatic and delivers a quietly compelling performance.
Other cast members are good as well. Notably, Amanda Drew, who plays the director's long-suffering producer. In one agonising moment the producer (the character Anastasia) has to reboot and re-finance the entire movie when the director (Maxim) insists on changing the medium from digital to film. By this stage it's becoming clear this is a movie that will never get made, or, if it does it will be much like the infamous Heaven’s Gate.
Another stand-out is from Jonjo O'Neill who plays an erratic, menacing and slightly mad actor called Ivan. At key moments, O'Neill, perhaps attempting a hilarious Klaus Kinski homage, breaks the fourth-wall and laughs with (or at) and pokes fun at the audience.
In the end the light that the director seeks proves elusive, for the light is actually inside him. This gives nothing of the rollicking performance or plot away. Unreachable is an anarchic one-off; catch it if you can.
The play has been well-received on social media, with theater goer Eva Coll (@FunnyEva) tweeting: "Excitement levels high." UEA Drama Studio (@UEADrama) expressed delight with "the ever brilliant Matt Smith."
More about Matt smith, Unreachable, Play, Theater, london stage
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