Albion Review


Set in a decaying historical garden, Albion tells the story of an upper-class woman doing her best to save what was once, in her eyes, glorious.

Capturing the audience and holding them in a thickened state of tension, Albion manages to take long dialogue scenes and transform them into fiery snapshots of humanity. Director Lucy Clements took on the task of directing a political, wordy, and lengthy play – something not easily done – but the way Clements presented this strikingly precise piece of theatre was evidence of her skill. She delivered each scene with refined taste and expertise, leaving the audience quietly in awe.

Rhiaan Marquez and Deborah Jones in Albion, 2022. Photo: Clare Hawley ©

While inspired by The Cherry Orchard, Albion isn’t just a modern-day remake of Chekhov’s classic – instead it is an engaging and political drama. A direct comment and examination of modern-day patriotism and the privilege that upholds it. Audrey, played by Joanna Briant, was perhaps the greatest example of this, written in an almost larger-than-life manner. Audrey was the comically accurate caricature of an uptight, selfish, privileged white woman, who has no concern for anyone but herself. This show highlighted something very common in society: the rosy glass tint many privileged people like to wear. It’s a tint that seems so set in its stubbornness that it colours anything it wants to. Audrey sees the old, overgrown historical garden as a new opportunity; a chance to bring her romanticised version of the past into the future, all while completely blind to the implications. Briant did a marvellous job here, she nailed with exact ease the characterisation of Audrey, making her completely believable in the role. She effortlessly demonstrated the infuriating tendency most upper-class white people have to think they can own whatever they want and do whatever they want with no consequence.

Writer Mike Bartlett sculpted his characters in a playful manner, filling the play with people that deliberately tugged and pulled at different parts of Audrey with the aim to explore the multitude of ways her narcissistic stubbornness affected others. The entire show felt like an exploration into the abundance of ways people can act and behave in regard to their own country. Audrey’s old childhood friend Katherine, played by Deborah Jones, was the fantastic opposite of Audrey. She was a socially adept, politically correct, queer writer who could see right through Audrey’s niceties. Katherine in particular pulled on Audrey’s more sensitive notes, with one of her more surprising acts being dating Audrey’s daughter, Zara, played by Rhiaan Marquez.

Jane Angharad, Ash Matthew and Jo Briant in Albion, 2022. Photo: Clare Hawley ©

While I would love to, the cast is too large to go through individually, and if I tried I would assuredly run out of space to satisfactorily detail each performer’s skill. Know, however, that the entire cast performed with such polished prowess that it would have impressed even the most critical, Simon Cowell-esque audience members. The design aspects were also faultless! They made this indie show feel like one of the most esteemed pieces of top-level professional theatre, something worthy of a much larger stage. The set, sound and lights were on point, and the costumes in particular were brilliant. Katherine’s costumes were especially well done; they were unique and expressive, cheeky in just the right way, and fantastically fun.

The entire show was crafted to perfection and incredibly well executed in all aspects. It was most certainly worth watching once, twice, or maybe even three times.

4.5 Stars.

Astra, 16, [she/her]

Secret House’s Albion played at the Seymour Centre from the 27th July to the 20th August.