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“Lockdown” by Hatch Theatrics

December 7, 2014

LockdownPic1(Photo credit: Hatch Theatrics)

Event: “Lockdown” presented by Hatch Theatrics
Venue: The Substation Theatre
Run: 28th – 29th Nov 2014

Hatch Theatrics is a collective of young and talented theatre makers, and they recently staged the psycho-thriller “Lockdown” at the Substation Theatre.

“Lockdown” is a tale set in the counselling room of a typical secondary school, and starts off innocuously enough, with the teacher Miss Nora (played by Shida Mahadi) speaking with a student Izz (Ziyad Bagharib) and trying to mine more information from him with regards to a recent case of attempted theft in the staff room involving Izz and two other students.

Not much is made known to the viewer at this point, and it is only much further down the road that we start to receive more clues to piece the backstory together.

On the chalkboard in the background, we see a number of dates being written on it, and it is soon apparent that the story jumps back and forth in time.

Soon after, two of Izz’s friends – Wan (Farez Najid) and Jason (Andy Yew) – enter the counselling room, and this is when things start to get feisty.

There is obviously tension between Wan, who is the most aggressive of the three, and Izz, who appears to be the most meek of the lot, while Jason prefers to take the role of sidekick to Wan and defers to pretty much everything Wan says and does.

Wan assertively presents one side of the story, while Izz holds firm to his own version of events in such a sincere manner that you are reluctant to doubt him, leaving the viewer with the unenviable task of trying to figure out what the truth actually is.

Things take a turn for the worse when a fire breaks out somewhere in the school compound, and the entire building goes into lockdown mode, whereby all the doors are locked and there isn’t even any phone signal to tap on.

To make matters worse, Miss Nora, who suffers from claustrophobia, starts to hyperventilate, and her situation isn’t helped by Wan and Izz starting to get more and more violent with each other.

As the play progresses, the tension escalates tremendously, leading to an inevitably gruesome and chilling ending.

The performances of the four actors are truly commendable, and all three students made their roles so believable.

It’s hard to choose between Ziyad, Farez and Andy as they all seemed to inhabit their roles so naturally, and even the fight scenes towards the end of the play looked so real you almost wanted to ask them to tone it down a notch for fear of one of them sustaining an injury in the process.

The lines by director and playwright Raimi Safari came across as authentic, although I did find it slightly tricky to follow the storyline as it kept jumping back and forth in time, and the untidy presentation of the facts made it difficult to try and piece the entire backstory together.

The second half of the play was when things started to take a much darker and psychological tone, turning from what initially seemed like a realistic play into a much more edgy and surrealistic one, and while I can see the playwright’s intention in bringing out a number of character issues in the play, such as Jason’s desire to break free from always being told what to do and wanting to be his own man, it did seem like the play was a bit too short in adequately exploring all the issues it wanted to touch on.

“Lockdown” does have its moments, and certainly does seem like it would benefit from further fine-tuning, but in this particular iteration of the play, it is definitely the quality acting of the entire cast which makes the production as riveting and as powerful as it is.

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