Rating: ★★★★
Venue: National Theatre at Home (online)
Cast: Olivia Williams, Olivia Colman, Joseph Quinn and Amanda Boxer

Alice is a scientist. She lives in Geneva. As the Large Hadron Collider starts up in 2008, she is on the brink of the most exciting work of her life, searching for the Higgs Boson.

Jenny is her sister. She lives in Luton. She spends a lot of time Googling.

When tragedy throws them together, the collision threatens them all with chaos.

When lockdown was in full swing across the UK, I enjoyed a variety of shows from the comfort of my sofa, but most of them were concerts or musicals. Mosquitoes is the first play I've watched online, and it was through National Theatre at Home, which has a huge selection of past performances from the National. It cost just £5.99 for a three day rental period. With a cast as stellar as this, it was almost impossible to get your hands on tickets to this a few years ago, so I was excited to finally get round to seeing it!

The play follows the story of two sisters whose lives are thrown into turmoil. The sisters couldn't be more different if they tried. Alice is an anal, busy scientist, searching for the next big discovery on particles, whereby Jenny's life is chaotic and messy. Alice is level-headed and sensible, where Jenny is emotional and spontaneous

Jenny (Colman) is grieving the loss of her child, for which she blames herself. Alice (Williams) is working tirelessly on her latest discovery, while raising her teenage son, Luke. It explores the dynamics in families, in the face of loss, and how exhausting it can be to work through issues as a unit.

It goes without saying that the acting in this piece is sublime. Colman and Williams are a dynamic duo, who compliment each other perfectly. Where one is chaos, the other is order. It highlights how differently individuals react to certain situations, and find their own coping mechanisms; healthy or otherwise

While Colman and Williams are incredible, the standout performances for me came from Luke (Quinn) and Karen (Boxer). Quinn plays the awkward, overly-forward teenage son brilliantly. He is effortlessly funny, and smarter than most people give him credit for. Boxer plays the girls' mother and is quick witted, brutally honest and hyper critical of her children. Their acting is nothing short of exceptional.

I'll be honest, the reason the show didn't reach five stars for me was because of it's complexity. Some of the science went straight over my head, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. It's not simplified for the audience, so at times can be confusing. The piece also shines a light on how often females scientists are often pushed to the side, despite their level of intelligence. 

The ever revolving set, and harsh lighting makes for a simple, but effective design. The simplicity of the staging means the actors are completely on show at all times, and almost vulnerable; which just makes the cast's performances even more astounding. There are no distractions, or unnecessary props. Just the actors, and the audience.

As for the recording of the show, it was quiet at times, which I found quite frustrating. As this was shot a few years ago (and likely wasn't ever planned on being released), some of the angles weren't as sharp as you see from filmed performances now. However, it's given me a chance to enjoy this piece 5 years later - so no complaints here!

It's a thought-provoking play about the complexities of families, and adjusting to change. I will mention that it tackles many heavy themes such as child bereavement, addiction, loss and bullying. It's quite difficult to watch at some points, but it truly is sensational. The story is compelling, and the acting is superb - would highly recommend

You can watch Mosquitoes, courtesy of National Theatre at Home here.

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