Does art owe anything to real life? Must it be entirely responsible in its representation of events and individuals? These questions disquietingly preyed upon my mind as I watched this hour-long speculative one -act play written by David Thame that takes as its source material the still-unsolved 2010 murder of MI6 employee Gareth Williams in his Pimlico apartment, found naked and foetally stuffed inside a sports bag (BBC2 used, very loosely, aspects of the story in their 2015 mini-series London Spy).
Intention is very sober and serious, and Thame soon spins off his contemplation from the fundamental plot into more expansive realms of relationship theory and destiny, but would the lack of exploitation be enough to salve the distress, say, of a long-grieving family member or friend who may have to withstand the existence of this work (or indeed experience it). Thame posits one potential possibility of the forces which came into play to create the specific conditions and conclusions of this case, studying the central relationship through the prism of quantum mechanics, an apt reference given Williams’s position as data technician/mathematician for the GCHQ.
Zac, a rent-boy fast approaching his sell-by date (a furiously focussed and darkly charismatic verbal performance from Max Rinehart, increasingly tortured and conflicted with his mission as he comes to know his victim), is tasked by his Hungarian handler to blackmail poor mark Tom through a charade of desire (socially awkward, tremulously high-strung, Tom is tenderly portrayed by Guy William-Thomas with arrestingly fluid sexuality ) into using his influence to acquire passports for use by Russian “operatives” interested in expanding their business opportunities.
That Zac is seen as a disposable asset (or pawn) by a powerful criminal concerned with keeping himself distant from any possible consequence exposes the tenuous and fragile underpinnings of Zac’s supposed enviable life (really a mere gilded cage, lived overseas and across a series of stunning villas and cities), linking him closer to Tom than he is comfortably willing to acknowledge. The quantum theory as applicable to any human relation is fascinating in display, as Tom’s final monologue damns him and Zac to forever be connected in the final brutal act, both of their probabilities altered in an uneasy, inextricable intimacy.
In this matter, data collection and risk assessment is defeated by simple aching human want and enforced servitude, two disparate, marked particles entangled in a fateful, propulsive pas de deux. The script may spin one too many times around the principal concept, but the actors’ nervy, sweaty energy and the sheer lingual momentum guarantee the excitement never ceases to abate. And yet somewhere in the back of my conscience a tiny, sympathetic voice spoke on behalf of a family wounded in perpetuity. Kompromat, originally scheduled to run through 27 January as part of the terrific excess of the Vault Festival, offering over 400 works over its eight-week residency, has been extended to 3 February due to popular demand