Reviewed – 3rd August 2018
“a range of poignant moments that are coated with a wealth of relatable language”
Discussions over mental health have become increasingly prominent in recent years, which has led to a greater representation of the subject matter being explored on stage. However, this is often using long-established texts, therefore making George Jaques’ new play Breathe incredibly refreshing. Produced by Jaques’ theatre company Athenaeum Productions, the play focuses on three separate narratives involving young people that are struggling with ‘the anxieties of everyday life.’ Athenaeum’s theatrical mission is to create theatre that deals with slightly taboo societal topics, with an emphasis on those affected by young people. Hence, it seems only fitting that the production is written and performed by a host of young talent. Additionally, the audience was mainly comprised of young people which is certainly often a rarity in small London theatre venues.
It is an immense creative challenge to present a piece about suicide that deals with each branch of the subject matter without becoming contrived or superficial. Breathe explores this with incredible sensitivity, with a range of poignant moments that are coated with a wealth of relatable language and soundtracks for the younger audience. In many ways it seemed like it was written as a piece for those younger to relate to, and those older to listen to and understand. This may also be due to one of the most prominent themes running throughout the piece was the disparity that many of the characters felt between themselves and the prominent adults in their lives.
Cindy Lin’s set design was impressive and throughout the piece could be increasingly appreciated. The levels and materials used, in combination with Joseph Price’s sound and lighting design, allowed for such a small space to be adapted into several vastly different settings using minimal gimmicks.
Breathe was indeed a breath of fresh air and an establishing point for a new wave of theatre companies comprising of young people. It is a poignant piece which also aims to bring awareness and support to both the NSPCC and Childline through its production.
Reviewed by Claire Minnitt
Photography by DF Photography
The Bunker until 4th August 2018