The Manchester Review

The Drill | HOME

The Drill | HOME | 15–16 June 2018

Do you know how to save a life? Do you know how to administer CPR when all around you are losing their heads and blaming it on you? Whether a rehearsal or the real thing, The Drill serves as a reminder that it may take more than knowledge of basic first aid to cope in a crisis – it may take getting used to living on the edge, but are we not all already living on the edge in an uncertain world? We might be more prepared than we think.

The Drill was created by the award-winning multimedia performance company Breach, who create politically engaged, formally innovative plays that blend pared-down onstage drama with video drama documentary – in this play, corporate videos of workplace disaster rehearsals run by emergency experts.

The play opens with the talented cast of three – Amarnah Amuludun, Luke Lampard and Ellice Stevens (who also wrote the play) – casually addressing the audience on a prop-free stage. Each begins to narrate a high-octane monologue, relating their own, everyday personal anxieties and traumatic experiences – narrations that run throughout the play – occasionally interrupting and engaging with each other with punchy, probing dialogue.

They have been brought together at a workplace crisis preparation class. To test what they’ve learned, they drill each other while engaging with the teachers on-screen. The play seamlessly switches from on-screen classroom scenes providing an immersive backdrop to the characters’ onstage. Tension and conflict mount with the threat of a real emergency that will set their everyday anxieties into pale relief – or will it? As they carry out drills onstage using crash mats, fake guns and masks, they continue to relate their own personal anxieties as if hoping to achieve some sort of catharsis during a real, life-threatening fight-or-flight situation.

Unexpected noises. Uncoordinated rescue attempts. Miscommunication at vital moments. Indelicate racial profiling. Preparation becomes panic. And it’s all just a drill. Realistic and often darkly comic, this 60-minute play is both thrilling and thought provoking. It is important to be prepared, but preparation can be even more stressful than the real thing…

by Emma Rhys

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