Ciphers at Bush Theatre. Three stars

January 28, 2014

I love the Bush theatre. An Arts Centre feel, an intimacy, flexible staging, great acting and new writing. Some of which can be breathtakingly brilliant. And all at only twenty pounds a ticket.  Last night was the first time I have been since getting a Christmas present that makes me an official supporter  – and it meant I got free wine and nibbles whoo hoo! We were seeing Ciphers, a new play by Dawn King.

The premise is that Justine becomes a spy  having been  made redundant from a marketing role and  is subsequently found dead. Her sister wants to know why but nothing is quite what it seems.  The actors each play two roles and carry this off superbly with minor costume tweaks but more radical characterisation changes so we are clear who they are. But do the characters really know each other? We see the various facets of Justine’s life which she has kept entirely separate  -seemingly sharing only on a ‘need to know’ basis. But I am not convinced of the credibility of it; Justine seems hardly trained as a spy and too niaive, not to mention it is retro in its lack of hifi/wifi/scifi spy stuff.  The first half romped along but the second half became more cliched and less gripping.

Ciphers is clever and enjoyable, but doesn’t quite deliver the punch between the eyes or the pull at the heartstrings I want from drama. Three stars.


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