Review by David Munro
ALEJANDRO Casano is a Spanish author, whom I understand, is highly
thought of in his own country.
I must admit to being totally unfamiliar with his works and
after seeing the production of his Seven Screams at Sea,
at the Theatro Technis, I am happy to
The play, which is translated by Robert Armes, who also plays
a leading role, concerns itself with the fate of seven first-class
passengers on a liner which is, apparently, about to be torpedoed.
Each of the seven has a sin to confess which they do during
the course of a long 75 minutes.
All of them are predictable and mostly boring. Whether the author’s
original intention was to have each represent one of the seven
deadly sins, and this intention has been lost in translation I
Certainly, every other cliché was present.
The wife who isn’t a wife, but a whore. A crooked financier
arms dealer, a drunk who is a murderer, a sister who let her brother
die in an accident she causes, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
These sort of hackneyed plot lines work if those expounding
them are cinema stars of the first magnitude and are played out
in the gloss of a Hollywood film.
In a little theatre, in the round in Stoke Newington, they seem
very tawdry and threadbare.
The cast of 11, meant to convince you of the dramatic verity
of their roles, were hampered by a director, Sam Snapes, who either
kept his cast clustered round each other so any impact of what
they were saying, or trying to do, was lost in the jostling for
positions, or he separated them in little groups with no inter-relationship
An example of dysfunctional direction
leading to dramatic chaos and audience disbelief.
It is perhaps not very fair, therefore, to criticise the actors
for their failure to breathe any life into this fusty old melodrama,
although to be fair, some performances did shine through the general
Eleanor Caird, as a repressed and suicidal spinster, with her
brother’s death on her conscience, made a very believable
character and her tentative love scenes with Robert Armes, as
the reporter who oversees the action, but takes no part in it,
were very touching.
Camilla Mathias, as the Duchess who is a tart, delivered her
lines with conviction, but seemed awkward in the ensemble moments.
Martin Stokes, as her Baron 'husband', gave a very convincing
portrayal of the reticent aristocrat when he was allowed anything
to do or say.
Martin Cort, as a mischievous, conscience-prodding professor,
gave an amusing performance but not one which seemed to have much
relation to the plot.
The rest of the cast made valiant if somewhat vain attempts to
keep the ship afloat, but I for one was glad when the torpedo
put them and the audience out of their misery.
But No! there was an apotheosis which set out to prove that
it was all a dream and there is redemption in repentance.
Well, I agree it was a nightmare, but for me there was no redemption
for the cast.
They did not deserve it for the boredom which they unrepentantly
had made the audience suffer.
Perhaps the next play they will do is one where the cast kill
their director at the first rehearsal and decide to put on a revival
of Maria Marten and the Red Barn. That I would enjoy!
Seven Screams at Sea by Alejandro Casona. Translated
by Robert Armes; Director, Sam Snape; Lighting, Alex Passmore.
CAST: Sebastian Aguire; Robert Armes; Eleanor Caird; Darren Chancey;
Martin Cort; Jack Lancaster; Kate Loustau; Camilla Mathias; Geraint
Rees; Mathew Stokes; Jackson Wright.
Producer. Robert Armes.
Theatro Technis, 26 Crowndale Point, London, NW1 1TT.
From August 3 – 22, 2004; Tues – Fri: 8.30pm; Sat:
7.30pm Sun: 6pm; Box Office: 020 8354 1785.