Tag Archives: Emily Fairn

All the Little Lights

All the Little Lights

★★★★★

Tristan Bates Theatre

All the Little Lights

All the Little Lights

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 12th August 2019

★★★★★

 

“The brilliant writing and Hannah Calascione’s contained intensity in the direction are powerfully compelling”

 

Lisa was best at playing ‘All the Little Lights’. She and Joanne would look out at the lit-up windows of distant homes, and imagine the ‘ordinary’ lives of other people. Once close friends but suddenly torn apart, Joanne, with newcomer Amy in tow, has organised a birthday celebration for Lisa, by the railway track. A triangle of complicity tangled up in the net of child sexual exploitation, Lisa is determined to cling on to her fresh start, while Joanne must survive the only way she can – Amy becomes the victim. Jane Upton’s play opens our eyes to the innocence and vulnerability of children who are all around us; their need for security, protection and affirmation is both ignored by those who should give it and taken advantage of by those who shouldn’t. It is distressing to witness their acceptance of dreams and prospects which have been stolen and happiness reduced to a bag of chips in exchange for sex, but Upton balances this with the humour and fun of teenage friendship and youthful spirits.

The three actors embody different aspects and consequences of abuse, pulling us into their complex dynamics of familiarity, unease and fear, with strong, absorbing performances. Erin Mullen portrays the painful wariness of Lisa, frightened to show the closeness she feels towards Joanne for fear of falling into the trap again and prepared to adapt to her ‘nice’ new life if it gives her a second chance. Joanne, played by Lucy Mabbitt, is the manipulative bully who swings from smiles to anger, and brushes aside the lies she tells as she is found out. Looking milder than one might imagine, she nevertheless illustrates the brainwashing process of grooming and occasionally allows herself to slip into remembering comforting moments of the past. Emily Fairn captures a naïveté in Amy which nurtures our affection and care. She is instrumental to the comic element but also to the tragic.

More than just pointing out those who slip through the cracks of society, ‘All the Little Lights’ underlines the harm done in childhood which, in turn, produces perpetrators. Complete with original music (Eric Fabrizi) and visuals (Alex Hobbs) which accompany their fantasies and thrills, the naturalistic tone of the script has a screen drama feel to it and makes it immediately connectable. The brilliant writing and Hannah Calascione’s contained intensity in the direction are powerfully compelling. We want to save Amy, we will Lisa not to go back and we feel impotent when Joanne inflicts the same suffering as she has received. Hopefully, there will be growing awareness, as this production intends, but it means digging at the roots of an enormous and unfortunate cycle – hurt people hurt people.

 

Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by Dave Buttle

 

Camden Fringe

All the Little Lights

 Tristan Bates Theatre
until 17th August as part of Camden Fringe 2019

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Oranges & Ink | ★★ | March 2019
Mortgage | ★★★ | April 2019
Sad About The Cows | ★★ | May 2019
The Luncheon | ★★★ | June 2019
To Drone In The Rain | ★★ | June 2019
Class | ★★★★ | July 2019
Sorry Did I Wake You | ★★★★ | July 2019
The Incident Pit | ★½ | July 2019
When It Happens | ★★★★★ | July 2019
Boris Rex | ★★ | August 2019

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