Tag Archives: Helen Murray

Wolfie
★★★★★

Theatre503

Wolfie

Wolfie

Theatre503

Reviewed – 26th March 2019

★★★★★

 

“The poeticism and rhythmic word play from writer Ross Willis is spell-binding”

 

Talking trees, talking cabbage foetus, a yellow boulder for a mother, this isn’t your average story about the care system. Where the topic is more often than not touched upon with bleak pessimism, filled with only doom and gloom, Wolfie tells the tale of abandoned children with lively vibrancy that leaves you laughing and crying all in one go. The bold, imaginative creativity and, quite frankly, mad-hat ideas from the writing and direction (Lisa Spirling) blows your mind. Another wonderfully bonkers and surprising theatrical element is always around the corner. But this trippy spectacle never detracts from the story. So full of heart, this affectionate tale of two sisters is disparately painful and warming, proving the power of love.

This is about the Sharkey Twins. Together through birth, together through – no, that’s the wrong narrative. Life never takes you on your expected course. As these two sisters are suddenly separated, days old, will they ever be able to find each other again? As one is taken in by an unreceptive mother, the other discarded in the woods and brought up by the surrounding wildlife, their lives go down similar debilitating avenues in differing circumstances.

Yes, we hear about children raised in the wild by packs of animals, a la The Jungle Book, but in this production, there is a deep subtext running through where the woods personifies the care system. When you’re released from the wilderness of a care home, and forced into the real world, you’re not equipped with the right tools to be human, let alone an adult. Without blatantly pointing a finger, Wolfie reveals the flaws and general lack of support the care system offers with evocative subtlety.

Tour de force performances from Erin Doherty and Sophie Melville leave you in complete awe as they masterfully glide or jolt between the twenty-odd characters that together they assume with such precision. The poeticism and rhythmic word play from writer Ross Willis is spell-binding. It’s astonishing to think that this is his debut play! Certainly one to watch for the future as are Doherty and Melville.

It is a multi-sensory experience with bubbles, glitter galore, balloons, rave music and audience participation, effortlessly integrated into being integral to the story. I’m not one for being incorporated into the action, as an audience member, but Doherty and Melville do so in such a playful and inviting way that it feels a pleasure to be included in some small form.

An epic journey from inside the womb, through to the difficulties of adulthood, our human struggle and constant pursuit for love takes precedent in this production. The message to take away is that a life without love, or little of it, may affect our path forever. Never lose your sparkle. Wolfie certainly never does. It shines brightly as one of the best theatrical experiences so far this year.

 

Reviewed by Phoebe Cole

Photography by Helen Murray

 


Wolfie

Theatre503 until 13th April

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Her Not Him | ★★★ | January 2018
Br’er Cotton | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Reared | ★★★ | April 2018
Isaac Came Home From the Mountain | ★★★★ | May 2018
Caterpillar | ★★★★ | September 2018
The Art of Gaman | ★★★★ | October 2018
Hypocrisy | ★★★½ | November 2018
Cinderella and the Beanstalk | ★★★★ | December 2018
Cuzco | ★★★ | January 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Becoming
★★★★

Stratford Circus Arts Centre

Becoming

Becoming

Stratford Circus Arts Centre

Reviewed – 7th March 2019

★★★★

 

“The non-sequential vignettes, often loosely linked, act just like a wandering mind”

 

At life changing moments, it’s often difficult to comprehend quite how you got there. What were the events that made you the person you are and how will they help you make sense of the person you will become? It’s this kind of personal reflection that’s explored in Becoming an autobiographical solo show by Ayo-Dele Edwards.

Jumping between present and past-selves, Ayo-Dele takes the audience through moments that have shaped her into the person she is today. Born in London, at four years old she is sent to live in Nigeria with various family members until, at ten, her mother comes and swoops her back to London, leaving her father behind. Events later in life are also explored, particularly related to her relationships with other men in her life – her brother, the father of her child, her fiancé. The non-sequential vignettes, often loosely linked, act just like a wandering mind would with each sparking the next without too much thought as to how or why.

Becoming is punctured with live original songs and music to express emotion at pivotal moments in Edwards’ life. Each song has its clear influences, from a love song ballad, to jazz, and hip hop. There is also, importantly, music and song in Nigerian style, with two live musicians playing percussion and keys on stage providing atmospheric sounds and accompaniment throughout. The set and props personify her family, with a coat and hat hanging up stage throughout representing the shadowy figure of her absent father.

By virtue of its subject, Becoming is a soul bearing piece drawing on a life’s worth of experience and emotion. Edwards recounts neglect and abuse that took place in Nigeria which are all the more uncomfortable to watch knowing they are drawn from experience. That’s not to say her life in Britain was sweet and rosy. This is not a piece which looks to dredge up and manufacture drama from personal suffering. It celebrates the Ayo-Dele of today and tomorrow and thanks the Ayo-Dele of yesterday. Edwards has created a dynamic and varied piece, managing to equally express child-like eagerness, the anticipation and loss of adolescent love and the reflection and reservation of later life.

Like life, there’s no neat resolve, and the play ends almost back where it started. But there is something strangely comforting in watching this woman try to make sense of it all and share that with an audience. Feel fortunate to be along for the ride.

 

Reviewed by Amber Woodward

Photography Helen Murray

 


Becoming

Stratford Circus Arts Centre until 9th March

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok | ★★★★ | April 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com