Tag Archives: Joanna Hetherington

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

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

 

River in the Sky

★★★

Hope Theatre

River in the Sky

River in the Sky

Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 8th August 2019

★★★

 

“Turn Point Theatre’s production is poignant yet warming, but a more daring approach to the acting would do justice to this original and thoughtful play”

 

Ellie and Jack dream of having a family. After a series of miscarriages, they have a son. But he dies and their world is shattered. ‘River in the Sky’ exposes their contrasting reactions for coping with the loss and pain – to detach from the familiar past or immerse oneself in it – until they realise that they need to help each other work through the mourning and begin to heal. Over the comfort of tea and biscuits, they argue to release the unsaid and distract and reconnect by telling each other stories of fantastical beasts.

Writer and director, Peter Taylor, captures and bonds both human and dramatic elements of the couple’s agonising fragility, artfully incorporating the various stages of bereavement into their own experience. He personifies grief as the enormous, overpowering monsters in their tales, the pair struggling separately to overcome them; only when they finally join forces can they challenge their demons. Taylor weaves the many layers of this distressing and complex subject into an imaginative drama. From the clever riddle of the first scene, we get wrapped up in the detailed descriptions of fighting against these oppressive powers and then, like the characters, we are brought back to earth, reminding them and us of the inescapable continuity of everyday life.

Howard Horner portrays Jack with a genuine disarray of torn emotions. We are drawn to the young father’s tenderness, caught up in his vivid nightmares and empathise with his confused feelings of attachment towards Ellie. Only at the end when he briefly mirrors the child is there a slightly uncomfortable, affected moment. As Ellie, Lindsey Cross’s performance is lower key. Her storytelling lacks the passion of one desperately running away from reality; she creates expressive movement to the words but there is little dynamic contrast in her voice or pacing. It is as if the volume button has been turned down vocally and emotionally and, though sensitive to the script, it comes across more as a poetical rendering. Anastasija Roitenberga’s sparing stage set of four large cubes works as cliff, rocks, table, chairs, cot… as well as looking, perhaps unintentionally, like children’s building blocks; her lighting adds spirit to the illusions.

The title ‘River in the Sky’ could be interpreted in various ways. It is perhaps the power and inevitability of nature, a boundary to be crossed, the perception of time passing or simply life itself, from source to sea. Turn Point Theatre’s production is poignant yet warming, but a more daring approach to the acting would do justice to this original and thoughtful play.

 

Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography courtesy Turn Point Theatre

 


River in the Sky

Hope Theatre until 24th August

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Head-rot Holiday | ★★★★ | November 2018
Alternativity | ★★★★ | December 2018
In Conversation With Graham Norton | ★★★ | January 2019
The Ruffian On The Stair | ★★★★ | January 2019
Getting Over Everest | ★★★ | April 2019
Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story | ★★★★★ | April 2019
Uncle Vanya | ★★★★ | April 2019
True Colours | ★★★★ | May 2019
Cuttings | ★★★½ | June 2019
The Censor | ★★ | June 2019

 

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