The name on everybody’s lips isn’t Roxie, recently in theatreland it’s been Dave Davidson – ever since the Royal Court Theatre announced their latest play That Is Not Who I Am, the author of which is an ‘unknown’ and ‘first-time’ playwright.

So… who is Dave?

© Manuel Harlan

That Is Not Who I Am is advertised as a play about Ollie, whose identity has been stolen over the internet, but soon however, his real life is being stolen too.

The play is shrouded in mystery as we picked up our tickets and were handed the playtext in a brown envelope with ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ stamped upon it. We were instructed not to open the envelope until after the play has finished.

The show then begins with a message from the Royal Court Theatre stating that we will not be seeing the play that has been advertised, the reasons for which will soon become clear.

Therefore writing this review is tricky – I don’t want to spoil things for people that will go and see this play, but I also cannot review a play I did not see…

The real play? Rapture by Lucy Kirkwood, so sorry to disappoint anyone hoping to see an anonymous playwright’s debut – it’s actually written by an Olivier Award winning playwright.

© Manuel Harlan

The play follows the lives of Noah and Celeste Quilter. We are informed that following the Home Secretary blocking a publication into the deaths of the Quilters – Kirkwood took it upon herself to investigate. Due to censorship and legal challenges, Kirkwood felt it necessary to use a pseudonym for her own protection.

Our first introduction to this pair is on their first date, a blind date set up by the Guardian newspaper in 2011. Celeste is a nurse and Noah an ex-serviceman. During their first date they both speak of the conspiracy theories they believe in – Celeste (Siena Kelly) speaks about believing in Chemtrails and Noah (Jake Davies) speaks about his beliefs on 9/11. Kelly and Davies have undeniable chemistry together, and come across as an authentic, natural couple.

Priyanga Burford portrays playwright Lucy Kirkwood, she’s present upon the stage throughout, watching the Quilters and speaks to the audience directly to let us know what is going on. She explains that early on in the Quilter’s relationship Noah began receiving phone calls from an anonymous number, she also explains that their home was bugged.

Staged in a house, there’s a living room, bedroom and kitchen, the house revolves between scenes. Stage managers enter the stage throughout to set up for the next scene with the audience able to see them. Alongside Burford’s ever present figure on the stage, the staging helps to portray how the Quilters were under surveillance and felt watched during their relationship.

© Manuel Harlan

Burford informs us that Kirkwood put together the Quilters story by using Reddit boards, YouTube videos and home videos. The Quilters were active upon YouTube to spread their anti-surveillance and anti-establishment messages.

As the curtain fell and applause filled the room, the person in front of me exclaimed ‘I don’t know what is real and what is not anymore’ and I concur. The play had such an effect on me, that I even tried to Google their names to find out if the Quilters were real. The show is ingenious and has you questioning whether the story is real or a work of fiction.

That Is Not Who I Am may not be the play expected – but Rapture does not disappoint in any way. Burford’s impassioned speeches to the audience help to add tension to the play. Kelly and Davies give incredible performances which feel very authentic, as if someone has lifted the lid on a normal couple’s everyday life. Their chemistry is electric and it’s easy to feel invested in the relationship. The ending was slightly confusing and the play lost its cohesion during the final scene. However I was on the end of my seat for the entire run time and this play is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

Rapture is hilarious, tense and takes you on a journey through all of the emotions.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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