In the Net
Image: Anya Murphy, Carlie Diamond In the Net. WoLab. Photo: Steve Gregson
Misha Levkov’s new play takes us to London in 2025. Drought is a serious issue affecting every household, prices of everything are rising continuously and there’s a new mantra: “When the water goes the refugees come”. In the midst of all this two half sisters and the Syrian woman who is staying with them come to believe that things will be better if they create an “eruv” – an area which symbolically extends Jewish territory and permits Jewish people to disregard their own rules. In practice this means building a complex cats cradle of string across the stage, visually intensified by Jonathan Chan’s lighting and Daniel Denton’s projection. Meanwhile their decent father is bemused and local council furious.
The symbolism in all this is abstruse to put it mildly and the wordiness of the action-light play does nothing to clarify it. The play makes some pertinent political points about refugees and climate change but eruf is not a successful device in this context and we don’t understand it anymore than the council committee meeting does.
The other problem with this play is that it is trying to do far too much at once. Laura (Carley Diamond – good) is grieving for her mother who has just died but the theme is never developed. Hala (Suzanne Ahmet – powerful) has arrived in Britain on a refugee boat and that’s a story in itself. The best scenes in In the Net are between her and the very versatile Tony Bell who is outstanding as a sinister immigration officer. Finally there’s a drought so serious that households are rationed and when someone deliberately pours the water away it’s devastating. I’d quite like to see a play focused on that.
All this is a great pity because five accomplished actors, who have clearly worked very hard on this show, are let down by the material they’re working with. It’s meant (I think) to be a play about struggle but the tension shouldn’t be between the actors and the text.