Robert Schenkkan’s new play offers a chilling view of the near-future that is blisteringly tangible, comments Editor in Chief Josh Brown.

24 hours after Robert Schenkkan’s Building The Wall opened at the Park Theatre, ABC News reported that President Donald Trump had threatened to close down the US government in a new push to secure a wall along the border with Mexico to keep out immigrants.

Speaking during an event billed as a tax reform roundtable, Trump said:

“We’re going to get the wall, even if we have to think about closing up the country for a little while. We have absolutely no choice. And we’re going to get tremendous security in our country.”

Building The Wall Park Theatre

Angela Griffin & Trevor White

Schenkkan forecasts Trump’s contentious policies on immigration in a chilling view of the near-future, which could become blisteringly tangible. Set in a Texan jail in 2019, this smart, deep-seated new play evolves around Rick (Trevor White), a prisoner awaiting sentencing, and Gloria (Angela Griffin), an African-American college professor granted permission to interview the former about his crimes. Building The Wall takes time to establish itself, but is littered with absorbing exchanges that eventually unravel the horrendous extent of Rick’s criminality and question the consequences of tenacious planning & scheming from within a (conceivably) corrupt Trump administration.

Building The Wall Park Theatre

Trevor White

The drama is contained within a single, sterile room encircled by glass walls. Sarah Beaton’s design is a masterclass in simplicity, which guides much of our attention towards the weighty dialogue. Rick’s orange jumpsuit is the only shot of colour against his bleached surroundings and sharp glass reflections. Under Jez Bond’s direction, both performers circumnavigate their enclosure with poise and precision.

All art forms address current affairs, but none have the visceral candour of theatre. Building The Wall is an unflinching UK premiere that sears into the memory, raising tantalising questions about our current political turbulence and offering a potent, unsettling vision of the future.

 

 

★★★★☆

Building The Wall runs at the Park Theatre until 2 June 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.