360 Degrees – Theatre Review

JEALOUSY, obsession, alcoholism, love and sexual chemistry are all themes richly mined in 360 Degrees, an intriguing play written by Nina Frantzeskaki and running at The Hope Theatre on March 8 and 9.

It’s a two-hander, tracing the fraught relationship between hedonist Ellie (Frantzeskaki) and her older – and more restrained – partner Phillip (Nick Voyia). We first see the couple dancing, drinking and canoodling. Life, it seems, is a riot, a bed of roses the colour of Ellie’s gloriously red dress. ‘Are you scared of being happy?’ asks the diminutive, exuberant but vulnerable Ellie. ‘I’m falling in love with you,’ remarks the straight-backed, straight-laced Phillip. Wine is drunk by the gallon. They cavort. Joyous, young unbridled love.

We are then thrown forward a year to a time when they are no longer a couple. They meet by accident and the recriminations flow thick and fast. ‘You weren’t honest with me,’ snarls Phillip. ‘You don’t trust me,’ says Ellie. While ‘the kiss’ seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back (all I can say is that it must have been one hell of a kiss), we soon discover more about Ellie’s thirst for life (and for men besides Phillip) and the reasons for the gaping fissures that now divide them.

It’s all rather intense as they clash and then come together like mating cats. Photographs (memories) are ripped up – and hang on wires dangling from the ceiling. Yet, despite the betrayals and the brickbats, sparks of passion still flicker like dynamos between them. Will it end happily ever after or will the hedonism all go a little too far? For you to find out.

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360 Degrees, directed by Nia Vasileva, produced by Ewens Abid and comprising some atmospheric (and original) music by John Frantzeskakis, is another promising play from Y-Axis Theatre, a company founded two years ago by Frantzeskaki, Vasileva and Abid to give a platform to up-and-coming international actors and creatives.

It’s an edgy and unsettling production and at times you can almost cut the atmosphere between the two of them with a pen knife as they give their own take (angle) on their broken relationship. Views from different points of the compass. All helped by a claustrophobic set with the audience within kissing distance of the action.

Both characters are utterly believable, a credit to Frantzeskaki and Voyia. Frantzeskaki gives Ellie a youthful zest, a joie d’vivre  – while hiding obvious insecurities. Voyia presents Phillip as a jealous lover who on the one hand loves Ellie’s zaniness, but on the other wants to clip her wings and keep her all to himself.

The Hope Theatre is to be congratulated for giving talented theatre companies like Y-Axis an opportunity to strut their stuff on a Sunday and Monday – other theatres should follow in its footsteps. Also currently playing at The Hope theatre is Tell It Slant.

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