Review: Depth of Field, University Drama Studio

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Jonathan England’s debut play is an uncompromising and unflinching study of the emotional fallout following a traumatic childhood. It accurately depicts how, often, victims of abuse tragically mimic elements of the perpetrator’s dysfunctional behaviour as a coping strategy, thus continuing the negative cycle.

England’s drama, which he also directs, also contains a fascinating history of photography and debate as to its true purpose.

Depth of Field means that a camera can only focus on one thing at a time. England compares this with cognitive dissonance, the idea that simultaneously holding two conflicting ideas leads to discomfort. All humans suffer from this to a certain degree. We think we are bad people because of what has happened to us but have to convince ourselves we are essentially good to obtain a modicum of happiness.

Photographer Cassius’s world collides with prostitute Skylar. Their friendship could be a redemptive force for transforming victimhood into empowerment or conversely may be a catalyst for the cycle of dysfunction. Nathaniel Kershaw puts in a terrific, thoughtful and measured performance as tortured soul, Cassius. Katharine Farquhar is excellent as his pure, would-be lover, Skylar. Josh Finan has his toughest role yet with an unsettling turn as Colin with Bethan Ratcliffe as his wife Mia, completely unaware of the true reason their daughter left. While judicious editing may benefit the drama, England has made an auspicious start to his writing career. Never has a clicking camera or the sound of a record been so haunting.