Reviewed – 17th April 2018
“a touching, thoughtful, well-designed show”
Spiked, written by Félicité du Jeu, and produced by Pepperbox Theatre, is “a play about mothers, by mothers”. It tells the story of three mothers: Karen (Daniella Dessa), Rozhin (Katie Clark) and Joanna (Charlotte Asprey), anxiously waiting in A&E where their children, along with the entire class, have been mysteriously taken ill. The story builds slowly and expertly to the final climax and we learn not only why the children are sick, but also about the mothers’ different lives and their relationships with their teenage children. Each of the characters come from very different backgrounds, and tensions about race, class, and different parenting styles all bubble under the surface. We move back and forth between the waiting room and flashbacks showing the day-to-day lives of each mother and her child.
The acting is very good overall, with each actor playing both a mother and the child of another mother. The latter is signified by a quick costume change into a school blazer and adopting an angsty attitude. While the scenes with the teens are enjoyable, the waiting room sections are the best part of the show, as we watch these three very different women handle being thrown together in a room during an incredibly difficult and stressful time. The characters all show some sort of development or change and Katie Clark’s character, Rozhin, is given the best speech. It should be noted that Clark’s Kurdish accent is strong throughout, thanks, in part, I imagine to the Kurdish advisor on the team, Abed Moftizadeh.
Cecilie Gravesen’s set design is excellent. There are five plastic waiting room chairs facing the audience in the intimate Stagespace at the Pleasance. Hanging from the ceiling, around the edges of the stage, are different shaped panels with grainy images on them: an estate, a hospital corridor, a wall covered in graffiti, and some smaller ones painted white, grey, and yellow.
The projection used throughout is done in the same grainy style as the panels. It is used to cleverly portray a narrow hospital corridor, with newspaper-style cut-out figures flashing up as though they are moving through the hall. These projections are used mainly during transitions, with the stage in a blackout and a hospital soundscape playing, which works well. However, almost all of the transitions are the same; some variety in them could keep the audience on their toes a little more.
The ending of the show bordered on cheesy and cliche but never quite crossed over, thanks to the control and command of the actors. Overall, Spiked is a touching, thoughtful, well-designed show that is absolutely worth a watch.
Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com
Photography courtesy Félicité du Jeu
Pleasance Theatre until 28th April