Did it Hurt?
Camden People’s Theatre
Reviewed – 6th August 2018
“a rebalancing and proportioning of the content would heighten the clarity and impact of the message”
Written and performed by Michael Faulkner and Joshua Poole, alias ‘Seventy30’, ‘Did It Hurt?’ addresses the issues of male mental health, suicide and the deep-rooted stigma around emotional expression, admission and reaching out. Two strangers find themselves locked in a dark room together. With nowhere to go and no one else to talk to they are forced to get to know each other and eventually reveal secrets and truths. Gradually the layers of suppression peel away and they discover the relief of communication.
This debut production has a well-structured storyline and a clever twist near the end, but a rebalancing and proportioning of the content would heighten the clarity and impact of the message. The first part emphasises the social backgrounds of the characters, but the conversation relies heavily on stereotypical references and differences and leans more towards a comment on class distinction. Listening to their stories, we begin to connect with Jean (Poole) and Paul (Faulkner) as they draw out each other’s pasts with mockery, humour and ocassionally aggression. Their lives have a certain poignancy but as individuals they come across as representatives of a social system rather than defined characters, which undermines our emotional reaction. Both actors give good if slightly underplayed performances, relying more on the script than interpretation to create their contrasting personalities.
Kathryn King, brings an added audio dimension to an otherwise simple approach to the direction. Music and sound (uncredited) spontaneously project inner thoughts and memories into the narrative, as an impulse for further discussions and confessions. We feel a few moments of tension as the situation develops but a more varied pace would intensify the dynamics of this claustrophobic situation. There is some thoughtful detail in the uncomplicated set, the significance of which becomes progressively apparent.
It is a challenge to choose such a sensitive subject and any initiative and creativity by young artists like this should be supported and encouraged. Although ‘Did It Hurt?’ does not fully succeed in offering the powerful or revelatory insight it proposes, as a piece of theatre it is original, well executed and engaging.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
Photography courtesy 70:30 Theatre Company
Did it Hurt?
Camden People’s Theatre until 6th August
as part of The Camden Fringe Festival 2018