“an enlightening foray into the allotment of life”
Bath based theatre company, A Word In Your Ear brings an inspired, real life look into the world of two women innocently matchmaking for their adult children. Although the writing (Clare Reddaway) was quite on the nose at times, this episodic retelling is both heartachingly moving and delightfully comic.
Michelle Wen Lee and Sarah Curwen give compassionate performances that let the audience peer into their lives in Shanghai. As both wives and mothers, their stories have been affected by China’s one child policy and so some eye-opening and heart-wrenching memories are narrated to us with seasoned storytelling.
With no set and very little use of props, both Curwen and Wen Lee transform into a number of characters that feature in each of the women’s lives, from a harsh mother-in-law to a forward-thinking “leftover” daughter. Direction from Bryn Holding is both considered and effective. Yet, similar to the way the audience is fed certain information in the writing, there were a few obvious and demonstrative moments that felt unoriginal despite perhaps having intended to shock the audience at the sheer pain of those very real memories.
What is really refreshing is to observe these women matchmaking for their children. Although to our western lifestyle that seems absurd and controlling, it is shown here as purely an act of love and protection with the intent of ensuring secure and healthy relationships for their offspring. What a pleasant contrast to our own modern, vain, ‘swipe right’ hook-up culture.
Little Potatoes is an enlightening foray into the allotment of life. The emotional events covered in this hour long piece plant the seeds of political and cultural curiosity, sprouting the questions we ask ourselves as people and as a community; what is family? What is more important than family? And how far would you go to serve your country?
Reviewed by Vivienne King
Photography courtesy A Word In Your Ear Productions
“a varied and engaging night of promising new writing that hosts strong performances across the board”
Featuring some of the best emerging regional writers from the South East, ‘Voices from Home’ is an evening of five short plays curated by Broken Silence Theatre.
First up is ‘Sungrazer’ by Clare Reddaway. Two sisters hold very different views. One, Annika (Eleanor Crosswell) works in a nuclear power plant, unphased by its potential dangers. The other, Inga (Emma Howarth) is watching the sky for a comet with a green tail to pass overhead. Inga is desperately trying to persuade her sister not to continue working there, but to no avail so far. The narrative arch, Annika’s process of realisation, requires more time than is lent to it by this format. An extended version of this play would also allow the nuances to be pushed and explored, both within the story and within the characters who are currently predominantly stereotypical. This is a promising narrative that needs more space to be told in a genuinely complex and in depth way.
‘M** & Women’ by Sydney Stevenson imagines a dystopian future world in which all the men but one have been eliminated. We are meeting two of the guards who stand watch over the last living man. It is an interesting and topical premise, but ultimately is not sufficiently investigated. The complexities are not really found and it all feels a bit obvious. However the relationship between the two soldiers is built and developed in a really lovely way, and their rapport and sense of humour works really well.
Jo Gatford’s ‘Flying Ant Day’ is a moving picture of a struggling mother as she feels herself disappearing to the world. This is a much needed perspective cleverly interwoven with the story of a spider which she is keeping in the airing cupboard as it waits to give birth. The piece is occasionally a bit heavy handed and unfocused, but both performers (Jennifer Oliver and Emmie Spencer) are strong and engaging, carrying this promising piece of writing.
‘The Cromer Special’ is sharp, funny and the most successful piece of the night as a whole. Claudia Campbell as Maggie and Abbi Douetil as Lucy have a natural and genuine rapport onstage that makes for highly convincing performances from both of them. Their comic timing is perfect, and whilst this is, on the surface a comedy piece, this is also a play that is making poignant comments about class, education and youth.
To end the night is a monologue written by Olivia Rosenthall and performed by Isobel Eadie, entitled ‘Home Time’. What begins as a familiar account of the discomfort of the daily evening rush hour, becomes an even less comfortable account of sexual harassment on the tube. Whilst the opening mundanity lasts a little too long to remain engaging, the switch into what the monologue is really about is highly effective and very impactful, and Eadie’s performance is strong and convincing.
Voices From Home is a varied and engaging night of promising new writing that hosts strong performances across the board.