Reviewed – 30th April 2018
“The performance is beautiful, pitched perfectly to capture both naivety and knowing”
Fundamentalism and personal freedom are examined in Gracie at the Finborough Theatre. Growing up in the confines of a fundamentalist Mormon Community in Utah, Gracie is a lively happy little girl consciously unaware of the restrictions put upon her. Produced by Tanzanite Theatre, Joan Macleod’s play has a tangible relevance in light of current gender politics.
One-person shows are tough, both for performer and audience. But this is an accomplished and engaging production. Although a guest on the set of another production, Gemma Aked-Priestley’s direction is light and encompassing, making full use of the intimate space. At ninety minutes, there are moments that seem prolonged, but Carla Langley’s energetic delivery never lets the pace dwindle too long. The performance is beautiful, pitched perfectly to capture both naivety and knowing. Gracie is charming and winsome, loving and trusting of her Mamma. Equally there are flashes of understanding as the demands placed on her and those she loves become more unsavoury. Langley creates Gracie’s family with precision and care. It’s a fantastic job.
The only weakness is in the Mormons themselves. Their lifestyle still seems obscure. Shelby, Jamie and Stanley, the men who pose a direct threat to Gracie and her family, remain largely abstract. Shelby has a charismatic menace, but we see little more to justify Mamma’s trust in him or understand her choice to bring her children to a place where she is immediately separated from son Billy. Jamie and Stanley are simply bad husbands. The good Mormon Sister-wives, while sympathetic, also lack depth. This for me is problematic. While seeing this world through a child’s eye allows us to see how indoctrination can be normalised, the danger seems too severe. It feels like while this piece has a very strong argument, it’s missing a component to give a fully rounded picture.
However, this is a thought provoking show with a memorable performance at its core. Definitely worth a look.
Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com
Finborough Theatre until 15th May
Opening Night – 6th February 2017
“An extremely captivating and enormously enjoyable show”
Set in and around the high rise building sites of Dubai, Carmen Nasr’s thought provoking work explores the contrast between the glittering, almost hedonistic lifestyle of those inhabiting the emirate and the stark reality endured by those building it.
The play explores the plight of the underpaid and poorly treated workforce, mainly migrants from India hoping to create a better life for their families back home. Alongside these workers are the ex-pats, living the dream and making huge amounts of cash by selling the luxury lifestyle to others.
Between these two opposite sides comes Clara (Miztli Rose Neville), a feisty young journalist and former close friend of Jamie (Nicholas Banks) one of the marketing team or a ‘Creative Digital PR Specialist’ as he calls himself. Under the guise of being a shopping correspondent covering an exhibition, she seeks to uncover the truth behind the alarming amount of workplace ‘accidents’ and deaths; a path that will lead her to betray her friend and expose herself to danger.
The design of the show (Bex Kemp) is incredibly simple yet remarkably effective. Who’d haev thought a few two feet square perspex boxes could be so adaptable? Subtle lighting (Robbie Butler) and a skillful use of sound (Jack Burton) alongside a few basic props take us effortlessly between scenes, whether we’re atop a skyscraper with the workers or out enjoying the indulgence of a boozy bar scene.
The two featured workers are portrayed well by Adi Chugh (as Amar) and Varun Sharma (as Tanveer), allowing the audience to feel their pain from the loves and lives they’ve left behind. It’s fair to say that the whole cast were believable and put on a deft performance; Nicholas Banks giving a particularly strong and perceptive portrayal of Jamie.
The show itself is very believable. It’s a situation which everyone knows goes on, but it’s more convenient and lucrative to brush it under the carpet.
This is a well researched piece and extremely engaging to watch. A credit to the writer and director (Georgie Staight) and the cast. Definitely in need of a longer run.
Production Photography by Tim Hall
Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road,
London SW10 9ED
Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21 February 2017.
Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm.
Tuesday matinees at 2.00pm.
Tickets £18, £16 concessions. (Group Bookings – 1 free ticket for every 10 tickets booked.)
Performance Length: Approximately 90 minutes with no interval.
To keep up to date with the latest news on this and many other shows, please follow thespyinthestalls on Twitter by clicking on the image.