Theatre review: fell (Barons Court Theatre)

My first visit for quite a while to Barons Court Theatre finds Chris Salt’s new play, fell, currently on tour after a brief run in Feb 2020 in Cockermouth.

Jake, a 17 year old who lives off nature up on the high fells, meets 14 year old Kyle, who has run away from home in his school uniform.

Both teenagers are damaged and hide secrets, although at first both strive to hide them through a bravado that keeps a wall between their attempts to get to know each other.

Production photo for fell

Janys Chambers directs this two-hander set against Jane Linz Roberts’s deeply creative design, which brings the outside in and suggests the dangers of wandering in the middle of nowhere.

Ned Cooper feels a little too old and knowing for Kyle, but as his facade slips, he portrays loneliness and desperation very well. Not quite a man, but not a child, the character becomes believable as the play progresses.

Tom Claxton’s Jake has an inner strength that comes from isolation and knowledge of the terrain and climate; still, he is vulnerable and seeks the validation he doesn’t get from hunting rabbits or cooking trout.

If you pay attention, Kyle’s secret is revealed quite quickly. After that, the tension rises as the 24-hour period progresses. Jake is more of an enigma, and I came away with questions about how and why he is alone.

Production photo for fell

Salt has captured an engrossing, funny and moving story of two misfits in fell, punctuated at scene changes by the music of Elvis Costello. Cleverly, there is little resolution, but the play feels complete, with the two boys making a close connection.

This is a play that conjures up the wet, cold landscape of gales and mist while presenting a “buddy” play with a brutal edge.

fell is at Barons Court until 7 Oct, before going on tour (including some dates in the Highlights Rural Touring Scheme) and finishing at the Arcola in Dalston on 29 Oct.

Follow fell on Instagram.


Image credit: Keith Freeburn Photography

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