Sea of Faces Theatre Alibi Northcott Studio Theatre, Exeter and touring
We have difficulty with other people's old photographs. Even when they are neatly ordered in an album, we flick the pages rather quickly, ignorant of the stories behind them. Imagine then that you are exploring a bagful of them from a rubbish pile. Such is the starting point of this show.
Declining the obvious approach of documentary history, Sea of Faces deals more with the nature of photographs - with writer Daniel Jamieson loosely tying this theme together with snippets of linear narrative and the looping recurrence of love and war.
Mostly, this works, but there are times when it would have been good to have known more about fewer people.
Crisp playing from Henry Hawkes and Emma Rice enables them to portray many characters without confusion. Inescapably, we realise that the people in the snapshots are just like ourselves. The strength of the production lies in its removal of the sepia screen that separates us from the past, allowing the subjects to escape for a while into our lives.
Following Sea of Faces's Exeter run, Alibi, beneficiaries of South West Arts' decision to fund fewer companies more generously, are embarking on a major tour of the South of England.
Northcott Studio Theatre, Exeter, until February 8. Tour details: 01392 217315