The Open – The Space Theatre, London – Review
by Eamon Somers
until 12th October.
The Open opens with Bella lying on the grass sipping champagne and eating strawberries. She is on a day off and waiting for her husband. He is the boss of the great British Golf Course, and she is a senior executive.
The country had been privatised post-Brexit and turned into a walled-in giant golf course. Control Centre tells her that her husband has just finished the twelfth hole. But instead of her husband she is approached by Jana, a nervous looking woman who tells Bella that she is there to take her order, producing her waiters’ pad.
No you’re not, says Bella and begins to play with Jana, assuming that a non-British passport-less hospitality worker should be pleased with the attentions of a senior executive and exalted person. Bella presses a glass of champagne on Jana and crowns the moment with a selfie of the two them.
Shift to another part of the golf course to where we can tell from the way Arthur puts the marker flag into the hole that he is a precise man, governed by his employment codes, a believer in the steady hand of the protocols. But when he gets a call on his phone, and we hear a distorted woman’s voice telling him she is on her way back, we see another side of Arthur. He does not want this call, not least because central control will be aware of it, so he smashes the phone to end it. When he’s joined by Patrick – the idealistic artistic dreamer – Arthur returns to the parroted company message: in work is nobility.
Patrick has been wandering the countryside, although as employees they are not allowed to call it anything but the golf course. “Did you see anyone? Arthur asks innocently, knowingly, manipulatively.
Of course Bella’s selfie does not go down well with central control and the fallout causes all of their lives to change.
The Open is a timely dystopian story peopled by characters we know well from other stories. All four actors give it their best shot, but Tom Blake as the dreamer forever child and Heidi Niemi as the driving force make the evening worthwhile, but then they are playing the good guys.
The Open continues at the Space Theatre until 12th October.