An unnamed man and woman—strangers for most of the play—find themselves in crisis in this strange, formally daring piece of new writing by Nathan Ellis for theatre company This Noise. Both are subject to disturbing imaginings, visions of violence prompted by the worries that are eating away at them: terrorism, loneliness, the meaninglessness of existence. Describing their thoughts and actions in the third person has the effect of further heightening the sense of dislocation embodied by these characters. It’s a dislocating feeling for the audience too – you never know quite where you are with No One Is Coming to Save You.
Director Charlotte Fraser coaxes mesmeric performances from Agatha Elwes and Rudolphe Mdlongwa, letting Ellis’s script speak for itself in her unshowy staging. The moment when the pair finally meet and start speaking in the first person crackles with a thrilling energy that, though the scene only lasts a couple of minutes, offers a real glint of hope in this otherwise dark piece.
Though intriguing, No One Is Coming to Save You isn’t an entirely satisfactory experience, feeling more like an experiment in character and form than a play proper. And the ending, while reassuring, is jarring too – if self-care is as easy as this final bit seems to suggest, maybe these characters and their traumas weren’t really worth listening to after all.
Still, it’s not often a piece of new writing involves a sudden, unexplained dance break – I’d go and see No One Is Coming to Save You again for that alone.