Review: Ciphers, at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
Ciphers explores the murky nature of identity as well as professional and personal deceit and betrayal
By Steve Adams | November 20, 2013
Writer Dawn King’s new play was apparently inspired by the death of Gareth Williams, the MI6 agent whose body was found locked inside a sports bag three years ago, and is especially timely given the police’s recent re-investigation of the case.
Just last week they announced Williams’ death was “probably accidental” even though the original coroner said it was almost certainly down to foul play. It’s unlikely the truth will ever be known, and that premise is at the heart of Out of Joint’s latest production Ciphers, which also features the death of a spy, as well as the attempts of her family – in this case her sister – to find out what really happened.
There’s much more to this engrossing thriller than that, not least the way it explores the murky nature of identity as well as professional and personal deceit and betrayal, conveyed through parallel storylines that mirror, and often blur, the worlds of espionage and real life.
The mixed identity cause is aided by an excellent four-strong cast who each play double roles – Grainne Keenan giving a standout performance as fledgling spy Justine and her grieving sister Kerry – and a simple yet effective stage set of grainy moving screens that provide the blank canvas for a drama that is fittingly full of grey areas.