In the world of endless streaming services and instantaneous hand-held entertainment, theatre can seem a bit inaccessible and highbrow – at least, to a large proportion of the younger generation. And that’s what the team at Beyond the Yard Theatre are trying to remedy with their production Trust Me, It’s the End of Our World After All – a family drama set in an apocalyptic bunker, where three siblings have their relatively stable routine interrupted by an intruder.
“I wanted to write a play that could entertain your ‘average punter’ – someone that doesn’t necessarily watch much theatre, but could come along to this show and be entertained. That is, see that theatre can be as entertaining as the latest Netflix binge show.” says writer and director, Terence Smith. The Beyond the Yard Theatre team (Smith, Bubble Maynard, and Bianca Roose) are aiming to achieve this by using themes and tropes from reality TV – in particular the way the audience can see scenes play out alongside ‘diary room confessions’ which reveal the inner thoughts of the characters.
Not only did this technique succeed in adding drama and mystery to the show, it was also an impressive addition to the set, with the stage darkening every so often to illuminate a screen where videos of the characters’ confessions would play. The rest of the set – courtesy of set and prop designer/builder Owen Davis – was also very immersive. Audience members entered through a heavy bunker door, crossed over the stage, and then found their seats. It was dimly lit and smoky, with an incredibly detailed bunker-style living room and kitchen.
For anyone instantly put off by themes of a virus or an isolated world, don’t worry, in the words of Smith ‘the apocalyptic setting wasn’t born out of Covid, the bunker represents a pressure cooker environment where the characters are led to have their emotions pushed to the extreme and cannot leave.’ And it definitely got intense. Although the scenes sometimes tiptoed towards melodrama, the dialogue was a realistic recreation of the harsh words that can be spoken between family and the scene where a game of Monopoly escalated into a brutal argument was definitely relatable.
At times, the acting was quite over the top and a few of the plot points were a bit hard to believe – but this is reminiscent of scenes in reality TV and it certainly added flavour to the experience. Also, Joe Haworth gave a stand-out performance as the narcissistic Rich, the intruder who enters the family’s bunker and leaves chaos in his wake. Haworth infused the character with depth and intrigue, while providing some much-needed comic relief as well.
The main character, Marcus, has the most significant evolution, and actor Liam Longley provided a solid performance, eliciting several laughs as well as heavier emotions as the story progressed. Also, Bianca Roose’s costume design definitely shines when Marcus dons a vibrant, David Bowie-inspired outfit for the unpredictable last scene.
Marcus’s story is especially personal for Smith, who said ‘Marcus in particular would be the most similar to me; a young gay man who at first struggles to come to terms with his sexuality himself, despite those around him being positive.’ This part of the play is just one of the meaningful, relatable struggles that arise for the overwrought family members. Again, the reality TV themes surface, with these everyday issues magnified through extra emotional characters and overly-dramatic arguments.
Trust Me, It’s the End of Our World After All isn’t meant to be serious, black-tie-event theatre, it’s meant to be dramatic and addictive – a guilty pleasure. Just like when you binge the latest season of Selling Sunset, this show is designed to be consumed with friends and discussed at length over multiple wines afterwards. It’s an exaggerated, entertaining (and dystopian) version of our own family life, and the insane events and vicious arguments mean you can’t tear your eyes away until the end.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Trust Me, It’s the End of Our World After All is playing at The Blue Room Theatre until the 3rd of September. Get your tickets HERE.
Reviewer attended on the 26th of August 2022.