Lars Sorken, a piece of new writing by Matt Perkins, delivers on atmosphere. It even has a script whose dialogue intrigues, and a smattering of actors who utterly captivate. Unfortunately these excellences fall just short of forming a complete piece. That said, it certainly has ambience. The director’s apologetic explanation that there wouldn’t be sound or lights for the dress rehearsal I was watching were, ultimately, uneccessary; thieving off Cumberbatch’s Holmes, Poirot and a hint of Sin City, Lars Sorken, the self-proclaimed ‘Norwegian Noir’, combines them to create a full and fascinating presence of its own.
With a minimal set and a thrust stage, the pressure will be on for the actors and the script to amaze, and at moments they do. One electrifying scene has Claire Rammelkamp as the mysterious femme fatale seduce Lars (and the audience) for all she’s worth, and it’s utterly electrifying, but the response from Lars is lifelessly flat rather than calculatedly reserved, and his distance undermines Rammelkamp’s performance; frustrating for an actor who clearly has strong stage presence and delivers his great dialogue well. There is a clever twist though. Rammelkamp’s seduction techniques are eerily familiar, almost theatrical whilst still being convincing, and it turns out that this is the point. Lars, a theatre anthropologist who solves crimes along the way detects her mode as a pastiche from a particular film. It has all been a game, with a delicious revelation that you weren’t quite fast enough to get it.
For all Lars Sorken engages though, it also confuses. Its scenes run on abruptly from one another, and whilst they are perfect vignettes in themselves, it is difficult to grasp the trailing threads of a continuous narrative to guide you through the fast-paced flash-backs and -forwards. However, if you like the kind of theatre that challenges and engages, that occasionally electrifies and will certainly have you leaving the theatre in an excited state of mulling, you could do a lot worse than go to see Lars Sorken.