Collider, by Shaun McCarthy. Arts at the Old Fire Station, Oxford. January 2015

Shaun McCarthy’s multi-layered play, Collider brought the new lunchtime Saturday Matinee Company to Oxford with a big bang on Saturday. The first performance, to a full house, was a triumph. Provocative writing, excellent direction and a team of four local actors at the top of their game could hardly fail. Audiences were treated to an intriguing play - appropriately ‘in the round’ - about the Large Hadron Collider. Katie Read’s deft direction strips away all the superfluity of ‘West End’ theatre and allows script and actors to work their wonders on our imaginations. It is bold and brilliant.

The scientist and engineers are visited by highly cynical American Bible Belt visitors in fear of the potential consequences of Science toying with Almighty God’s creation. The humanity of each of the four characters presents us with the delightful array of flaws that identify them as ‘human’. The play probes ideology and science corrupted by individual interpretation and perceptions. McCarthy has an effective mix of comedy and drama which is compelling throughout the entire hour.

Gaye Poole, as the senior physicist forced to permit the visitors-from-’heaven’, convinces with her lucid scientific brilliance and - in contrast - shows entirely unanticipated (and absolutely ‘unscientific’) skills in burlesque as well! Steve Hay plays the highly-sexed engineer with confident facility, displaying linguistic and manual dexterity. (His juggling is an amusing metaphorical allusion.) This man, the ringmaster of the Hadron circle appears to have his balls well under control, though he, too, proves to be no more than human. James Card, as the visiting preacher, presents with all the confidence of a man with God on his side, though his wife might not be quite as dependable. His missus is delightfully played by Amy Enticknap. Her interaction with each of the other characters show emotionally what powerful magnets and high speeds can do to make particles collide!

Let’s hope this high quality lunchtime drama is here to stay. Entertaining and provocative, Collider is a tantalising mix which will whet theatrical appetites. Don’t miss this! Performances on Saturday 17th and 24th January at 12.30pm. OFS will even provide a sandwich (or, if you really are in the mood of the play, a doughnut!).

Gwily. Daily Information. January 12, 2015