The huge, white, clinical box which holds the action in People, Places and Things is more than a waiting room, or a clinic, or any of the other places it is transformed into (with slick and smooth transitions) during the show. It is outlined with strip-lights which crackle with flashes of light as Emma loses consciousness: the play takes place in the headspace of this central character, whose drug and alcohol abuse has left her with a flickering reality. The problem is that the solid reality, which the rehab clinic she checks in to wishes her to believe in, doesn't offer her answers to the questions which fuel her addictive behaviour. And as the show goes on, and the audience settles into her thoughts and questions, it starts to be clear that she, rather than the world, has a point. Watching People, Places and Things, is as much an experience as a spectacle.
What is remarkable about the staging of the piece is its simultaneous large and small scale. There are rows of seats on the stage, and the experience for these audience members must be an intimate and visceral explosion of action and inaction. In the main auditorium, the actors are so far away that their faces are undefinable, but their projected performances pack an equally vital punch. The whole cast contribute, but Lisa Dwyer Hogg's multicolour control of this effect as Emma is particularly excellent, as she moves through the states of her addiction from despair to smallness to rage. The production in general harnesses it too; at times offering chaotic movement and noise, the whole stage lighting up and pounding, and at others scary, ordered, clinical smallness.
There was a sense that this production is in its early days, and further assuredness is still to come. Perhaps as a result of this, the ending lacked some of the devastation which I had felt on reading it. Nevertheless, this is a play which touches on the darkest and most unanswerable elements of human existence, whilst remaining substantially relatable and current, something carried out by this production with huge potency.