Trauma

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© 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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Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

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LiveReviews|8
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Raymond Wheatan

Much as his last play was more than a little similar to The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Roger Mortimer Smith's Trauma is very reminiscent of Anthony Horwitz's Mindgame. Rigby makes his character too much of a panto character while Bates is more convincing. Trauma is essentially a comedy and it's a pity that that didn't come across.

Mike

Yep, agree with others here - good night out, involving mystery, v good actors, smartly done. One of the comments takes issue with the end, but the change of tone right at the end gives you something to take away and talk about, as the others have said.

Biddy

Went last night. Very enjoyable evening. An interesting and cleverly thought through drama with a series of twists that kept me gripped throughout. Strong performances, clear and succinct direction - well worth a visit. Interesting (and rare) we talked about it all the way to the underground and then ran in to two other members of the audience who were equally keen to discuss their own, very positive, reaction. When I asked how they had heard about Trauma they said word of mouth. Us as well - pass it on!

Dickie

Nicely-tuned performances, good solid direction by Conrad Blakemore and Nancy Surman's sharp uncluttered design serve this twisty psycho thriller very well, a good night out in a powerfully intimate space, recommended.

Louise

Intriguing new play - bit of a 70s throwback and why not? Plenty of twists and turns (most of which are blown by the TO review above, which seems unfair to say the least), plus three excellent performances. Well worth a look.

Mags

Tend to agree with the review although I would say tha actors make a valiant effort. A littke dated.

liz

I went to see 'Trauma' last night and was gripped by it. It started fairly conventionally, but then began to evolve into layers of intrigue, where what you assumed was happening turned itself on its head, but in a plausable but shocking way. It was a very intense psycho-drama with strong, complex but poetic dialogue. The actors were brilliant, all interacting with real intimacy as their characters and inter-relationships morphed. I would highly recommend going to see this gem in Kennington.

Neil

This is a 70s-style 'Chinese box'-type play in the vein of Sleuth and Deathtrap. The first half is very 70s - the woman is forced to strip to her undies a few times, as women were in Monty Python etc. - but it's worth sticking out for the second half to see how the writer keeps you guessing. The climax of the play strikes a very worthwhile grace note, but right at the last moment the writer decides to introduce a lurid melodramatic touch. I love lurid melodrama, but the seriousness of the subject matter that has just emerged doesn't sit well with this last flourish. That said, it's worth seeing to witness how a writer has worked out a piece of clever artifice - do you think it holds up? The performances are excellent and the direction by Conrad Blakemore is clean and unfussy.