Inspector Sands and Stamping Ground Theatre, Hysteria

Review in Issue 18-4 | Winter 2006

Hysteria is, on one level, a kind of contemporary Restoration comedy of manners, playfully highlighting the follies and frailties of human relationships as negotiated in social settings. It takes as its subject matter a restaurant date in which a man (Ben Lewis) and a woman (Giulia Innocenti) nervously circle around each other, exposing their own neuroses and those of the other, their relationship mediated through the anarchic interventions of an even-more-neurotic-than-the-date-victims waiter (Lucinka Eisler), who has a rich inner life and tendency towards paranoia. Is this a first date? Maybe they’ve been married for years (‘It’s Just a Temporary Thing’ – Lou Reed). Either way, there’s a lot to learn about each other…

On another level, this is a classic clown show – an eternal triangle of three characters expose the archetypes and stereotypes within and without through physical/visual/verbal situation comedy. It is horribly, at times excruciatingly, funny.

Moving on up a level: it’s a piece of truly, totally, total theatre that draws together superb physical acting, a sharply honed text, a stunning mise en scène of light and objects, a perfectly tuned sound design and an intelligent use of the performance space.

Hysteria is an excellent example of the pay-off that comes with a slow and careful development process, in which the dramaturgy of a theatre piece is challenged along the way, to the betterment of the show. Praise is due to The Nightingale in Brighton and BAC in London for the roles that these venues have played in this process, and to artistic collaborator Jonathan Young (also shortlisted for an Award for his solo show The Garden). A genuinely collaborative piece of theatre-making, and a worthy winner of a Total Theatre Award.

Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-4
p. 11