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Review: Unscorched

PUBLISHED: 22:59 27 November 2014 | UPDATED: 22:59 27 November 2014

David Green and Hattie Amey in Unscorched by Luke Owen at the Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

David Green and Hattie Amey in Unscorched by Luke Owen at the Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

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Sewell Barn brings a startling and insightful tale of the grim world of online policing to the Norwich stage.

Can we unsee unthinkable horrors? Does detachment make us less human?

Written by Sewell Barn regular and UEA graduate Luke Owen, Unscorched touches on these issues as it follows new recruit Tom in his first days in an unusual job: analysing online child abuse images.

Played with a handsome awkwardness by David Green, Tom is also just starting a relationship with Emily (subtly rendered by Hattie Amey). He is guided by experienced analyst Nidge (Neil Auker) and his manager (made instantly dislikable by Joe Darbyshire).

There is a surprising amount of comedy in this potentially bleak tale – watch out for the PostIt notes on the way out – and the warmth Green and Amey bring to the fledgling romance makes Tom’s difficulty reconciling his troubling professional life all the more heartbreaking. Auker, as the seemingly unflappable Nidge, is brilliant; instantly believable as a character and as catalyst for the play’s moral questioning.

Michelle Montague’s direction and Jonathan Adkin’s seamless set physically blend those worlds together, with half-light scene transitions that are as suggestive as the main action.

This is a strong and impressive piece of theatre both in writing and performance.

Unscorched continues nightly at 7.30pm until November 29 and from December 3-6, with a 2.30pm matinee on December 6, at the Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich.

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