Souls intertwine and fates collide in a time-bending tale of love, betrayal and destiny in the play Have We Met? presented by Holly Matheson.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of this production is the venue. Framed around a blind date between two creative but frustrated souls Tom (Tony Tasam) and Hannah (Matheson), the performance grows almost organically around the audience (who double as patrons) at a backroom cocktail bar.
With no conventional stage, no amplification and a restless staging that sees the ensemble utilise all of the available space the performance has an intrinsically intimate and engaging quality that magnifies the emotional extremes.
Less effective, however, is the use of the framing device that walks the audience through the story.
Set in three distinct time periods – the Wild West, Nazi occupied Paris and the modern day – the two historical settings are framed by the contemporary characters are part of a play conceived by the writer character Hannah.
This proves to be a somewhat stodgy device, especially as Tasam’s character reacts rather too rapturously to the merits of the stories.
The historical vignettes – which effectively function as one-act plays in and of themselves – are easily the highlight of the play.
Matheson, Tasam and the other pair in the quartet of actors – Ian Lawrence and Tiarna Clarke – commit to the two taut stories that feature crackling dialogue and well-drawn characters, even if the violent climaxes are a touch too convenient.
In admirable performances, the quartet manage to tie the disparate scenes together and give the ambitious script a sense of thematic continuity, however a deflating final twist doesn’t fulfil the promise of the concept and leaves very little to the viewer’s interpretation.
While certainly not an entirely polished production, Have We Met? has its charms, and for those partial to experimental theatre it will be easy to look past the ragged edges.