Friday 13th January 2017 STRATFORD CIRCUS Studio Theatre. 2pm.
I had seen the quality of Ellen Goodey’s work with her performance in Laundry Boy (Millfield Theatre 2011), but this was her own devised piece. As Ellen is a Developing Artist with Face Front Inclusive Theatre, I was intrigued and joined the capacity audience for the matinee performance. I had no idea what to expect.
You are drawn automatically into the world of the play with its grey set and costumes and its live musical backdrop. A request to greet The King, before you take your seat adds to the audience’s engagement.
The use of choreography as narrative reinforces this is no ordinary world, no ordinary story, but you want to know more. It introduces the Princess’s concerns for her future and the desire to be an ordinary person. No, not an ordinary person, but to be treated the same as everybody else. Delson Weekes (King) and Katy Cracknell (Princess) capture that growing awkwardness as the King’s health fades and the days of the Princess’s responsibility looms.
We all want a friend in times of need and Gopal Gautam in one of a number of roles, does his best to help the Princess, but is quickly side-lined. Why? As the play deepens it reach, the Princess’s problems become more complicated. Using a small ensemble of actors to play everything including… peasants, medical staff, God and the Devil, Sarah–Jane Wingrove, Adam Smith and Jon French carry this off using strong characterisation and the humour of the script.
The play’s messages begin to hit home, the sense of isolation, the treatment of people who are different, treated as outsider. Questions such as: what is the difference between a human being and a brick brings in the surreal and real experience of people in a system that doesn’t understand and perhaps doesn’t care.
Throughout the performance Iris Ederer’s live soundscape commented, supported and challenged the audience in the total theatre experience. Its success as a score,was what the actors and musician were creating together, so at one. As a playwright it was something of an eye-opener how successful that process / experience could be.
The ending is both a surprise and took the play to another level, with a mothers cry for her baby, what had they done with her baby? A universal terror, that all in the audience can identify with. Is society to be blame or the powers that be?
This was a work in progress and when you appreciate who it was put together by Ellen and her father Chris, you can see why they wear the life experiences on their sleeve. No less enjoyable and educational, definitely. Good support from Barry Churchill, Dipan Patel and Rebecca Seabrook, hopefully the first of many Goodey collaborations. Well done to all and to Face Front colleagues for their support for this piece of inclusive theatre.