Friday, 6 May 2016

Yours Ever Loving/The Frights: Review

Louise Taylor's The Frights
Martin McNamara's Yours Ever Loving

Hosted at ‘Theatre N16’ located above the Bedford pub, Yours Ever Loving is performed preceding The Frights; a poignant and political duo assembled by the Newcastle based Alphabetti Theatre Company. Martin McNamara’s Yours Ever Loving trails the trials and tribulations of wrongly imprisoned 1974 Guildford bomber Paul Hill, incarcerated through the political conflicts between Britain and Ireland and only released in 1989. The piece is a whistle-stop tour through the 1970s/80s with James Elmes embodying the domineering authority as Margaret Thatcher, a Judge, a Kubrick-esque yob, brutish policeman, Roy Jenkins, Jimmy Saville and a vicar, all with a startlingly electric delivery. It charts Hill’s fifteen year prison stint informed through the letters he wrote to his mother during his time away, intersected with radio broadcasts, news updates and popular hits humorously relayed by Elmes. Stefan McCusker’s portrayal of Hill is remarkably human, capturing issues of mental health, repression and the futility of objecting when within a corrupt and horrifically abusive system.  
Physically blindfolded from the offset, Louise Taylor’s The Frights follows. This is a riveting play that charts the readmission of charity worker Hanny (Christina Berriman Dawson) into mundane life following her enslavement by elusive foreign forces. The inconsistency of Hanny’s account of her experience flags fears of deception and the traumatic repression of the returned captive as she is soon united with adoring partner Luke (James Hedley), who pines after the memory of the former Hanny and is obsessively protective. The effect of the performance being obscured through fabric neatly lends to the prevailing obscuring atmosphere with jarring flashes of Hanny’s repression that manifest in audibly graphic torture scenes, sharply contrasting the banality of the doctor’s waiting room. Directed by the inaugurator of the Alphabetti Theatre Ali Pritchard, The Frights is a sensory and psychological nightmarish voyage that shakes public perceptions of truth and the distinction between sugar-coating and fabricating. It fundamentally critiques the nature of the media platforms from which we receive information, scrutinising public entitlement to information as well as questioning attitudes to international charity and domestic hierarchy.