In the Net weaves together universal issues that deservedly need to be given a voice, yet gets tangled up in itself.
Misha Levkov’s brand new play debuts at the Jermyn Street Theatre in Piccadilly Circus, directed by Vicky Moran.
A play set in Kentish Town that follows half-sisters Laura (Carlie Diamond), Anna (Anya Murphy), and Hala (Suzanne Ahmet), a Syrian refugee. All three women are trying to find a resolution to each other’s issues that weaves a physical and metaphorical net between them; Laura and Anna coming to terms with the loss of their mother (step-mother to Anna) and Hala getting caught up in an immigration row with the authorities. Together they fight to build their Net to find justice.
I was intrigued by the religious qualities of the three women which was reinforced by Anna and Laura making reference to their Jewish roots, giving them the courage to spotlight inequality of immigrants, the lack of water for residents, and grief for family members who had passed away in their area – almost like three spiritual guides to shine a light on the troubles in the area.
The production directed by Vicky Moran was designed by Ingrid Hu with graphic designer Ciaran Walsh at CIWA Design. Together they created a physical Net that Laura, Anna and Hala built across their estate, reminiscent of a production called Us/Them at the National Theatre in 2017. A story of terrorists infiltrating a public school and the two performers pieced together a maze of ropes from one point of the room to the other to visually convey the entanglement. My taking from the In the Net at the Jermyn was to ask the question, how are these characters going to sort this situation out? How can a resolution be met and how would they untangle this net? The challenges played in the Estate Agent, Police Officer and Councillor by Tony Bell.
Despite all the impressive visuals I found it difficult to find an overall message. Amongst the character journeys and visual effects I felt lost at times as to what exactly the play was about. I didn’t know if it was a commentary on the immigration system, warnings of drought or finding peace in grief. I found myself lost as to what message the playwright wanted me to take away from her work. Often, with plays that want to tackle big issues all at once the key to their argument gets lost in translation; as a result of the playwright taking up too much time explaining the issues and their effects, the core message disappears. Buried under too many facts and details drowning it out completely. This was the case with In the Net.
It’s a visually adept show backed up with great performances. However, the lack of a clear message took away any meaningful impact, which was a shame as the play covers issues that speak to a lot of people. Great performances weave an interesting net which got caught in itself when it failed to deliver a clear-cut message and explain what the characters were fighting for.