Tag Archives: Sam Glossop

Giving Up Marty

Giving Up Marty

★★★★

VAULT Festival 2020

Giving Up Marty

Giving Up Marty

Crescent – The Vaults

Reviewed – 10th March 2020

★★★★

 

“gives a voice to a group who are too often misunderstood and unheard”

 

Think of adoption and your mind may well turn to an emotion-tugging soap opera or a tear-jerking predictable TV reality show.

Writer Karen Bartholomew explores the harsher truths of the subject and its impact on everyone involved in her sharp new play “Giving Up Marty,” which suggests that seeking out long lost families does not always have a happy ending.

The focus is on adoption reunion, the moment when an adopted child meets their birth parents and siblings, but this isn’t a story about a disgruntled teenager wanting to find his “real” family. Instead this drama considers the effects on a stable and happy 18-year-old and his adopted family when his birth mum and sister go looking for him.

To say that Bartholomew, who has personal experience of the issue, writes carefully would be to undermine the uncompromising challenge and complexity at the heart of this rich story. She and director Annie Sutton want us to recognise that in so many cases there are no love and kisses, more likely pain and a sense of not belonging.

A likeable and compelling Danny Hetherington is Joel, the well-adjusted young man (originally named Marty) who has been curious about his background but who is secure in who he is and has never shown any great desire to probe his origins. He allows us to see the character crumbling with the thought that he might have been “a mistake” as he faces the heartlessness of bureaucracy and unresolved tension, somehow feeling he doesn’t quite fit.

The plastic chairs are the only items of furniture on the stage, making us think this is an “everyman” tale where too many characters are faceless, while props (most notably a selection of dated case files) hang from pegs on lines to the right and left. Perhaps there is a feeling that people are simply hung up and left out to dry by the pressured system.

While the intentions of Joel’s birth mother and sister seem cold and selfish we also understand the genuine sense of loss they feel for a son/brother they know about but have had no involvement with. Dorothy Lawrence as mum Martha and Natasha Atkinson as sister Melissa give assured performances that highlight the mental stress of family who feel they have the right to know the truth yet recognise the can of worms being opened the minute they begin the hunt for Marty.

Alexis Leighton gives a lovely performance as Kit, the adoring mum who has adopted several children and loves them as her own, while Ugo Nelson’s Femi is a case worker who wants to do the right things, warns of the potential hurdles, yet ultimately can do little more than add the real people to a list of statistics.

This Motormouse production tackles a seldom-addressed real-life issue and is an important way of educating audiences to a far from uncommon plight. But more significantly “Giving Up Marty” gives a voice to a group who are too often misunderstood and unheard and who deserve to be treated more seriously than politics, popular media and society has ever done.

 

Reviewed by David Guest

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli

 

VAULT Festival 2020

 

 

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Something Awful

Something Awful

★★★★★

VAULT Festival 2020

Something Awful

Something Awful

Cavern – The Vaults

Reviewed – 29th January 2020

★★★★★

 

“a fantastic production which is sure to have even the most hardened horror fan on the edge of their seat”

 

In 2014, two twelve-year-old girls from Wisconsin stabbed their supposed best friend 19 times in an attempt to appease the fictional internet creation Slender Man. Fortunately, the victim survived, having crawled to a road where she was found, and the two girls were subsequently found not guilty by mental disease or defect. Something Awful, the new play from award-winning Flux Theatre written by Tatty Hennessy and directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson, takes inspiration from this gruesome tale and the horrors that lurk on online forums.

Soph (Natalya Martin) and her best friend Jel (Monica Anne) love reading scary stories on websites such as Creepypasta, that is, until new girl Ellie (Melissa Parker) turns up with her own horror story of a mysterious figure with an axe in the nearby forest. The line between fiction and reality slowly begins to blur with disastrous consequences.

Something Awful takes a fascinating premise and addresses issues becoming increasingly relevant in our society. The ease in which children can access grotesque and inappropriate content on the internet is an obvious concern for parents, and the real-life case which the play is based on demonstrates the possible terrifying results of such exposure. A scene in which Soph gets her first period at a sleepover reminds us just how young these characters are despite the media they are consuming, and the quick installation of a VPN on their mobile devices shows just how quickly young people can get around the barriers in place for their protection.

All three women are fantastically convincing in their roles, and have excellent chemistry. The play’s pacing is good for the most part though the morbid conclusion to the tale is perhaps a bit rushed. Some more build up to the girls’ decision would be appreciated though this does also make the ending all the more dramatic in its suddenness.

The set (Bethany Pratt) is very simple. Two tables are moved around the stage for different scenes, in some, they are desks, in another a bed and, in the performance’s final moments, either side of a forest path. Props are also minimal. The cast carry school backpacks from which appear, amongst other things, a laptop, a takeaway container and some scissors.

The lighting (Holly Ellis) is slick and perfectly reflective of the mood on stage. When Soph reads out a terrifying tale, the stage slowly darkens until only she is left in the spotlight. Green hues are also used frequently to give a thoroughly creepy feel to the show. There is potential for certain moments to be creepier – for example, the opening story about a disfigured woman would pack more punch if Parker was to wear a mask – but this had no real impact on the show’s overall affect.

Overall, Something Awful is a fantastic production which is sure to have even the most hardened horror fan on the edge of their seat.

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli

 

VAULT Festival 2020

 

 

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