Pomona Review | The Royal Exchange | Manchester
At the Royal Exchange, the Pomona set becomes a rotating room of sin. It allows its director, Ned Bennett to play through the dystopian reality of its deeply shallow characters. Set in Manchester, the audience follow seven characters in Bennett's surreal, video game surroundings.
The themes of Pomona are cemented in its opening scene, mixing mythology and facts. The character Zeppo parades around in his underwear connecting the plot to Indiana Jones as an analogy for life. Worlds in which people refuse to let anything surface or unravel. Announcing his affection for McDonald’s nuggets, Zeppo explains how he preserves his love for them. He refuses to ask how they became nuggets. He chooses to remain ignorant.
Pomona’s science fiction elements explore a looming awareness of its cast’s apocalyptic reality. The actors are entirely believable in separate scenes that intertwine through time. With sequences appearing out of order, this is an element that seals the fate of its characters long before the audience has a chance to relate to them.
At its best, the time-travelling helps entertain the audience with reckless story arcs. The packed auditorium laughs at characters painful narratives and increasingly repellent statements as they appear to be the only light relief between impending scenes of doom.
Despite its rough edges, writer Alistair McDowall has created a surprisingly humorous production with a childlike innocence from the beginning. Characters are contained in a state of play using Dungeons and Dragons, the pointless and aimless game that enhances life through its endless choices.
Overall, this factually inspired, fictional play battles with the hard realities of life. All roads point to Pomona and the game is simply to survive an increasingly heartless world.