As strands of yarn are fixed across the Jermyn Street Theatre auditorium after the interval, the already shallow stage becomes fairly impassable.
Such is the conclusion of the eruv (a space where Orthodox Jews can bypass Shabbat laws) Laura (Carlie Diamond in a strong professional debut) has constructed within a land polluted by racism against refugees and gasping for water.
Half-sisters Laura and Anna (a stoic Anya Murphy) live with their father (Hywel Simons); Laura’s mother has recently died, having befriended a displaced Syrian, Hala (Suzanne Ahmet), who shares their flat.
It is a July weekend in 2025. In a world ruled by bureaucracy and brutality, Laura searches for a way to honour her mother and help communities mix.
But in this muddled play, the first from Misha Levkov, the plots and focuses are as tangled as the web of threads that mark out the doorways and boundaries of eruv.
The performances from the five-strong cast are good, although Diamond is sometimes guilty of rushing a line or two, diluting its meaning, and Simons has an underwritten part to deal with.
For Ahmet’s Hala, there is grim humour to be found in official interrogations (Tony Bell playing one of his three parts; two officials and one estate agent). She is cynical enough to play the game.
I found the symbolism of the eruv – which on reading up about it seems to be slightly different than Laura’s perception – to be a little jarring at points, taking our concentration away from the stories of these women.
Design-wise (Ingrid Hu, sets and costumes, Jonathan Chu lighting), we have white gauze, window frames, and boxes lit from below with roots or wire within to give a sense of oppression or imprisonment.
Levkov’s script imagines something more domestic; a room with furniture. Director Vicky Moran’s vision is much more futuristic and apocalyptic – a world in which a town council meeting seems anachronistic.
In The Net has potential, but you have to work to keep all the issues fresh in your mind. At 105 minutes, it feels a little long and lacks moments where I would expect tension.
You can watch In The Net at Jermyn Street Theatre until 4 Feb – tickets here.
Image credit: Steve Gregson