Trauma

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Trauma
© Richard Hubert Smith

Recurring dreams need handling with care in drama. Roger Mortimer-Smith's spurious psychological 'thriller' suffers from repetition compulsion. First we see the dream – Jenny burgling her psychiatrist's office. It's then recounted in session, reconstructed as cure and finally recounted as a reconstruction. It's enough to bring on neurosis.

To succeed, this sort of structure needs a dash of ingenuity and, while Mortimer-Smith conceals his reveals well, 'Trauma' is too shaggy to satisfy. It's most improbable when it turns murderous. Without saying too much, we never discover anything bordering on a motive and it seems highly unlikely that any court would convict based on an interpreted dream. For a play that toys with doubt, peppered with clunky 'Othello' quotations, 'Trauma' conveniently forgets to go beyond it.

However, most unforgivable is an ending straight out of the book of forbidden endings; one so grindingly obvious it hardly needs spoiling.

Director Conrad Blakemore gets bogged down by the play's pensive pace, but delivers an otherwise decent account. Jonathan Rigby finds something sinister in the psychiatrist Dr Beckmann's professional concern and Annabel Bates buries Jenny's instability under a veneer of normality. However, there's no getting around the cod-pyschology and rotten red herrings of this murder mystery.

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