Trinity College’s production of This Random World presents a non-naturalistic mosaic of tonally diverse, confidently acted scenes in a meditation on human interconnectedness. While there is no strict plot and the characters’ meetings are coincidental and brief – some never even exchanging names – the play elicits a deeply felt sense of intimacy.
Deftly traversing the potentially logy themes of love and death, Lucinda Halls has directed an assured piece of theatre. She utilises stillness and well-paced blocking to wring meaning from seemingly mundane, inconsequential moments. These moments are further aided by a skilled ensemble of actors, with the highlights being Claudia Martin’s anxious turn as Claire and George Lean’s frustrated Tim Ward. Moreover, it would be a disservice to not note one of the smaller characters, Rhonda, played by Ruhisha Eesha, who delivers the funniest scene in the show, if a little predictable; working at a funeral home, she believes Tim to be deceased after reading his obituary, despite his insistence that he is very much alive. He places her hand on his chest to prove that he is a real, living, tangible person – to no avail. This idea of not-quite-connecting plays into the overarching structural motif of missed connections and temporally non-coincident destinies.
Tim repeats this action throughout the play, but never manages to convince anyone that he is in fact alive. There are several elements that are repeated throughout the play, such as Claire’s mopey “I suck at life,” and then later, “I suck at love,” and finally, “I suck at death.” These refrains trap the characters in repetition, with their many potential plot points cleverly left without ever being actualised, never knowing how closely interlinked each of their lives are. The use of a largely bare set bolsters this tension between familiarity and unfamiliarity.
Unfortunately, This Random World suffers from unnecessary and cumbersome set changes, which serves to disrupt the fluency of scene progressions. This draws attention to the conflicting acting styles among the cast, as well as confusing makeup and costuming choices. Lean’s choice for a realistic, pared-back portrayal challenges Lily Richards’s excessively physicalised portrayal of Beth Ward, while Martin goes for a mumblecore act. And the makeup and costuming are at some points exaggerated and at others non-existent; the former is exemplified most obviously in Coco Garner Davis’s case (as Scottie Ward), who looks to have been shoved up a chimney before the performance and clad in the stuff of nursing-home-stock-photo nightmares, while James Riddell-Clark (as Gary) is left so natural-looking he could pass for a lost audience member. Ultimately, this means the play feels at times inconsistent and disharmonious.
However, the strengths of the play outweigh these flaws and make for enjoyable, thoughtful viewing.
Trinity College’s This Random World ran from the 14th-16th September in the Guild Theatre.