Moving on swiftly through festivals including Brighton and Edinburgh, Oneohone Theatre’s production, 101, has arrived at Theatre N16. The interactive piece involves a small audience, encouraging and demanding participation. Not one for those expecting to hide away in a dark auditorium. Questioning human emotions and how one responds to the unknown or The Other, this fast paced suspense places you in the midst of the drama whilst questioning your own judgement.

101Prior to the start of the play, the cast arrive into the waiting area and out of the ensemble, one cast member hands out a white cloth, an indication of our participation. Guiding us through, Eleanor Rushton’s character aims to build trust. A mere exercise, repetition of words on trust, followed by hands placed around another’s throat. Assured and moving on, satisfied with her achievement, participants either embrace or recline with discomfort. Refusing to wither, Rushton aims to erase further discomfort and demands her trust.

However a scream jolts any content from the audience and Charlotte Mulliner’s fear leads to the darkness. A Beast (Robert Naine) appears, his moans stir whilst curiosity builds within the four walls. Right up until Harriet Madeley barges into the space, warning against him and his tyranny. Who is to be believed? Rushton’s calming voice or Madeley’s cautionary screams?

Joseph Cullen’s role weaves in between the ensemble and the audience to add effect to each moment; his presence resembles The Joker and collectively connects each person to the other.

It is however The Beast who is the focus of each person’s attention. With many different voices projected at the same time, it’s easy to drown it all and tune into his emotions. He promises trust in return for trust, and love in return for that very much human craved emotion.

Bit by bit the torturer becomes the tortured, and the feelings of fear and self-protection, soon turn around in his favour. Or so you think.

The ending is left for the audience, do you trust or do you solve this mystery yourself? Who really is this beast, and what will you do in order to look after yourself and the ones around you?

Having to decide this for yourself, is an excellent method of getting people to debate, which then brings to surface personal choices. What will you decide and why?

101 stirs much thought about trust in a city like London. How we behave towards people with whom we share no common ideology or a complete stranger. Our friendship circles reflect those with whom we have most in common and how often does one step away from that group to invite an outsider in? And once that person is within the circle, how will the rest respond?

Place this notion into the context of a complete stranger in need. Whether on a dark street, or a tube carriage being harassed. Will you respond with help or turn the other way? News stories highlight the heroics of this city, yet they also bring attention to the ones left abandoned. How do you decide who to help and who to ignore?

The ensemble collectively deserve praise. A black box with no props or chairs, and very little light, expands the mind, without preaching or taking too much time to get to the point. Most people will interpret this in many different ways and this is how 101 succeeds :the focus on self-reflection.

Asia Osborne’s minimalist approach doesn’t fail – how she projects five distinct characters works. You feel for the Beast and but you fear him too, and this switching of emotions, accentuates Osborne’s stage direction.

A devised immersive piece raising many questions. There is potential however for it to go further, to attempt to raise the bar of discomfort. At times reclining was too easy. It would be interesting for the characters to delve further into the audience’s psychosis.

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Madhia Hussain
Madhia is British-Pakistani and lives and breathes the air of the theatrical world. Her main area of expertise is playwriting, with occasional producing roles. In her free time, other than venue hopping, she enjoys travelling through different cities and occasional trips back to her hometown, Middlesbrough, in the northeast. She champions the need for more underrepresented people to be featured onstage around the United Kingdom.