By: Malorie Blackman
Directed by: Dominic Cooke
Venue: Stratford Civic Hall
Date: Thursday 17th January 2008
This came across even better than last time, mainly because I was familiar with the story and could get into it a lot more than before, and partly because we had a different angle, so we caught some things we hadn’t seen before, giving us a fresh take. There were no real changes that I could spot, but I did notice during the funeral get-together where Sephy is rejected, that one of the other mourners had an armband on. The symbol on it was red, with four black diagonal lines, and several white concentric circles over that – possibly the Liberation Army symbol? I was also moved to tears several times, such as when Lily’s ordeal is uncovered, when the bomb was being reported, and at the end.
The courtroom scene had seemed very jumbled before; this time it came across more clearly, with the participants easier to identify. I noticed throughout the play that the actors were working hard to move around and give us all a chance to see what was going on, and it worked a treat. We did have the advantage of having seen it before, but even so, they did a great job.
The performances were all still fantastic. Callum’s father’s part came across more strongly this time, and I also noticed Sephy’s mother more, helped by the change of angle – the look of suffering on her face was deeply moving. This woman has been through a lot, and this time I was more aware of Sephy not having the experience to be able to understand her mother, rather than Sephy’s own frustration at not being understood. It was a lovely performance, and one of the best in an amazing ensemble production. I was more aware of my ideas changing, and I was tremendously impressed by the range and depth of this production, ostensibly aimed at teenagers, but with more power than many more “grown-up” shows.
Having re-read my original notes, I suspect that my reason for suggesting a lack of depth in the characterisations was through not being familiar with the play. I didn’t have that feeling this time at all, and the power of the piece was what I took away with me. I also wondered if Sephy’s mother and Callum’s dad had been having an affair, as Jasmine, Sephy’s mum, is so keen to see him get off. Could this be the source of the rift between the two women?
This production was well worth seeing again, and good luck to them on tour.
© 2008 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me