top of page

Fell | Baron’s Court Theatre

Fell is a brilliant play about two teenagers, from entirely different worlds, who must rely on each other to survive the wilderness. However, it’s the explorations of power dynamics, grief, friendship, abuse and sexuality that lie at the core of the play, and ultimately makes the play a masterpiece. Written by Chris Salt, Fell is currently in development for a film adaptation, and the play will soon be embarking on a tour.

The dialogue carries the show, and it’s this conversation that really shines. It manages to be funny and confrontational at once, with perfect pacing. It’s careful in the revelation of truths and the character’s histories, allowing us to discover a new perspective. With each reveal, we love the characters more and more. It’s also in the one-person monologues (both characters are given this opportunity in the latter half), that really breaks through. It’s the clear cut introductions of both characters, and the slow chipping away at this, that were particularly great to watch.

Ned Cooper manages to really capture the essence of the 14-year old school boy Lyle, by nailing the right combination of curiosity, insecurity, admittedly annoying chatter and multi-layered personality. His confession near the end of the show, and the constant fear and subtle hints leading up to this, are done really well. However, it is Tom Claxton as 17-year old Jake, who steals the show. His portrayal of Jake is so grounded in reality, that it felt almost wrong to see him take his bow at the end as a happy, proud and more emotional person. His natural acting is so subtle, and his ability to bring the character’s softer nature through a rather hard armour was incredible to watch.

The play, directed by Janys Chambers, teases the line between reality and acting. Its determination to be authentic and realistic is admirable, and really elevates the show further. This results in the character’s actions becoming much more impactful. From the actor’s eating fish off the bones, to the actual removal of clothes and being wrapped in foil and blankets, an olden radio, decommissioned rifle, to the wet jackets and hair plastered to the faces, to having an actual portable gas stove, the show ensures that the story really comes to life.

The set is quite simple, and made primarily of wooden crates, camouflaged cloths hanging around and an actual green screen (although a darker shade). Baron Court Theatre is the perfect venue for this show, with its more intimate basement theatre, that has a cave-like appearance with olden brick walls, and pillars. Fell, despite being set in the fells, fits perfectly in this space, and hence it felt as though we, as an audience, were experiencing the story along with the characters.

The sound and light design (Jane Linz Roberts) is smart, with the quiet but constant sound of gurgling water in the background. It’s a great reminder of the play being set in the Lake District. The use of static and crackling does great for an older radio, the loud sounds of a helicopter and the realistic rain, really do add to the show. The light is more dim with a bluish tinge throughout the show. There’s a particularly clever moment when Jake uses a wind up lamp to light a place, and the light of the room increases accordingly.

The show is mostly unpredictable, resulting in an ‘edge of the seat’ experience, and being tense for larger sections of the show. However, it does unfortunately fall into a couple of cliches that, whilst work well, I felt that the show could do without, or differently. There’s a rather wholesome moment of the two characters singing together, and we instantly know that things are about to turn sour shortly, which did ruin the otherwise consistent unpredictability of the show. Also the late tragic and emotional background reveal was something that the audience would have been able to guess, yet the way it was done, particularly Jake’s reactions to it, helped steer clear of it losing the emotional momentum.

Fell runs at Baron’s Court Theatre until the 7th October before embarking on its tour around venues in the UK. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Keith Freeburn


bottom of page