Issue-based theatre sounds like a turn-off, but Bryony Lavery 's Frozen, which opened at the National Theatre's Cottesloe auditorium on July 3, deals with the constantly relevant issue of guilt and responsibility for crime - in this case serial murder.
The play is largely formed of three monologues, by a psychologist who specialises in murderers (Josie Lawrence), by the mother of a victim (Anita Dobson) and by the murderer (Tom Georgeson). Eventually these different characters, linked by terrible crimes, meet via the murderer's prison cell.
The play examines the issue of responsibility for serious crime - is it a conscious choice or are the criminals in a real sense brain damaged and their crimes therefore a symptom of that damage rather than an entirely self-willed act of evil?
Frozen (the title refers to the mental state of such people, the absence of normal human warmth and relationships) examines this issue over the course of an evening that lasts nearly three hours but where the audience (certainly on the press night) are wholly gripped by the unfolding, harrowing, story.
Not an easy night out, but the resolution that Anita Dobson's character comes to, after years of struggle, is quietly uplifting, so the play works as a shared experience of catharsis as well as a documentary about the brain damage often noticed in studies of murderers. —by Paul Webb Theatrenow