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Flash Festival 2017: The Powers That Be by Tangled Spines Theatre Company at St Peter's Church, Northampton

Perhaps of all the Flash Festival shows this year, Tangled Spines' The Powers That Be was the one that I was most looking forward to seeing. I had read Luke Rhinehart's intriguing novel The Dice Man (on which this is based) some years ago and while the main plot had long departed my mind, the truly fascinating premise that permeates the story is genuinely very clever. Our protagonist lives life by the throw of a die where his every action is decided by the number that the dice scattered at his feet portray.

Steven Croydon
A quick google of The Dice Man offers a rather bizarre fact that for some reason this story and idea hasn't been developed to any great degree over the years with just one minor mini-series and a couple of plays taking on the idea, therefore Tangled Spines are very much onto something and their nippy and clever performance brings to life the story to fascinating effect and doesn't hold back on the controversy and power of the original novel either.

After a quite brilliant repeated, but slowly altering physical routine, we are immediately presented with our lead Luke Rhinehart (Steven Croydon) throwing a die to decide if he rapes his mistress (Jen Wyndham). We do not see, but quickly learn that the answer is yes and he matter of factly presents this information to her and in this world that this story lives within, it is accepted by her.
Jen Wyndham

I love the fact that this play doesn't shy away at all from this power and repulsiveness of the original. When I read it originally I felt that although it told obviously a very different story, its morals were very much like that of A Clockwork Orange. This is crime and evilness often of the highest order, but you can't help but for the duration almost be on the depraves side.

Jack James
Steven Croydon given the meaty lead character also offers the best of the performances, however, that doesn't detract from the others. Jack James is excellent as a close colleague, while even better as Rhinehart's son, again showing skill at creating both a believable but never silly youngster seen successfully more than a few times at Flash.

Jen Wyndham is once again her captivating best as both woman in Rhinehart's life, the aforementioned mistress and his wife (it is worth noting that beyond this performance, a pair of crutches were her "friend" and this demanding performance truly showed her dedication to her chosen profession).

I truly loved The Powers That Be for bringing that wonderful novel to life in physical form. Tremendously well chosen, brilliantly created within both the altar space and within a neat and sensible running time. Thank you Tangled Spines for reintroducing me to Rhineharts religion of the die.

Performance viewed: Thursday, 25th May 2017

The Flash Festival 2017 ran between Monday 22nd and Saturday 27th May 2017 at three venues across the town.


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