Dropped

Two soldiers wait in a room covered in camouflage gear. Outside is mostly rubble and the horizon. Dark things lurk unmentionable in the past and the future, and they've run out of vodka. Something like snow falls intermittently with a dull roar.

Theatre like this – heightened, surreal, absurd – can be utterly wonderful or utterly abstruse, with little middle ground. The further a world or a setting is abstracted from the one we're familiar with, the harder the production needs to work to maintain our connection to it. When it doesn't work, it's dire. When it does work – and Dropped unquestionably works – it's transcendental. We're firmly locked on the characters, the push-and-pull of their relationship, the practicalities of their situation. But the curious, not-quite-natural language, the strangeness of set and setting, and the myriad underlying tensions create deeper resonances above and below the simple traffic of the stage.

Plays like this live and die in the spaces between what we're told and what we experience. Gaps in exposition and explanation are left quite deliberately to be occupied by the monsters in our own basements. The resonances are going to be different for every member of the audience, whether that's the way the play deals with motherhood, war, the future, the military, gender, relationships, children, memory, history. This kind of work doesn't present answers - or even questions in any conventional sense. It simply evokes, and trusts the dust (or the snow) to settle on its audience in whatever pattern suits their own internal landscape. (It goes without saying that all this is only made possible by the immense skill of the actors and the director.)

This is also what theatre is best for. Something in the quality of a live performance – the interaction of shared space, the presence of the performers, the tangibility of set and sound and light – is absolutely essential to that curious sense of suspension, significance, transcendence. Dropped is the kind of show that will remind you why we still go to the theatre in an age where cinema, television and all the wonders of the internet all compete so fiercely for our attention.

★★★★½