Not many secrets are revealed in this deeply thoughtful but problematic play by Alexander Matthews.
Theatre is designed to challenge and open our minds to other possibilities about the world around us and in some cases to part knowledge. With Screaming Secrets, playwright Alexander Matthews, through heavy reliance on philosophy, attempts people’s needs to be desired and understood, in which he attempts to do two out of the three above – but whether he succeeds is a different matter.
Screaming Secrets takes place at the birthday party for Antonio, organised by his girlfriend Monika and with guests including his father, sister, his doctor and a publisher. But it soon becomes clear that the tensions between all of the characters threaten to burst – with one major secret at the centre of it all that only Antonio knows about.
Unfortunately, it is a play that never truly states its intentions despite beautifully setting up arguments – the audience never gets a full insight into any of the characters and the reason behind their resentment for each other. In fact, all of them come across as selfish and self-absorbed, never really taking in what any of them have to say.
Through Evan Keele’s production, the audience really feels the intimacy of the play and successfully gradually builds up the tension to a climax until the flat final moments in the play strips away all the tension achieved, showing the lack of resolution that leaves the audience frustrated. But Keele’s production has a sufficient amount of energy and passion provided by the hardworking cast to help keep the audience’s attention – even if they don’t have a clear idea of what is going on.
While none of the characters are particularly likeable or have been given enough depth to create an understanding what they are going through, there are still some performances that work well. Triana Terry as Monika frustrated with Antonio’s refusal to marry her and who resorts to flirting with publisher Hugo, is a strong and restrained performance that works well amongst the other characters obvious aggression. Ilaria Ambrogi as Gina is suitably feisty mixed with a sense of vulnerability that would have been fascinating to watch unfold further – if the play had explored her aggression toward her father properly. Ben Warwick as Simon also makes a quieter and more dignified impact on proceedings as he tries to convince Antonio to tell the truth about his illness, convincingly revealing the way in which his character is torn between his loyalty for Antonio and desire for Antonio to have some family support.
Ultimately though, the play and the production while greatly intense to watch unfold – the flat ending and the vagueness of the character development doesn’t really offer a sense of anything being achieved. It is real challenge to appreciate the play properly, but Evan Keele has clearly put everything he has into it.
Screaming Secrets continues to play at the Tristan Bates Theatre until the 24th February. For more information and to book tickets visit: https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/screaming-secrets