“Escape from Alcatraz, right- it’s a true movie. It’s based on true facts.” We open on the inner workings of an eleven-year-old child whose favourite film is Escape from Alcatraz; favourite actor is Clint Eastwood and whose teacher says she lacks creative imagination. That she certainly does not. We follow her journey of adventure, seeing the world through an eventful evening in which a young fan tries to recreate her favourite movie.
It’s an incredibly well-acted humorous play with great characterisation. It gets us to question how we access family; the line between right and wrong; the care system and the value that we place on our elderly. There are moments when the latter two points can feel heavy handed in the way that they’re addressed.
Moreover, the phrase ‘creative imagination’, is one that referenced several times in Alcatraz and the plot does demand a certain suspension of disbelief to be enjoyed fully. It’s very hard to believe that anyone would consider a child as an Inspector and allow her to wander alone late at night with the safeguarding training most professions are given.
Alcatraz makes fantastic use of space. There is an armchair at one end and a box at the other with dialogue frequently taking place across stage between characters. Surprisingly this is used to great effect to create points of intimacy, disillusion or to emphasis a power dynamic. Similarly the props, lighting and sound are expertly used to take us into the imaginative mind of a child. It’s a shame the plot trips over the line of suspended disbelief far enough to take away from such a highly thought out, well delivered piece.