INFINITY PLAY REVIEW
Review for ???INFINITY??? by Claire Atherton
Performance held at The Foxlowe, Leek, 28th June 2012
Written by Joseph Makepeace
Directed by Larry Rew
Produced by Rotten Park Road Productions.
I am always wary of doing a review on anything related to the mental health system as often the reality of such a serious situation is glossed over in preference for dramatic effect. However I was pleasantly surprised to see a well thought out play that explored it all ??? the mental health profession and the vulnerability of patients with their coping mechanisms.
Joseph had admittedly written this piece after personal experiences within the psychiatric environment as both patient and carer. This is a unique vantage point to write from. In my opinion Joseph has completed each element of the piece sensitively, packing it full of powerful messages that make the audience sit up and listen to the widely stigmatized and frowned upon illnesses while diluting the heaviness with trickles of humor..
Directed by Larry Rew; who until recently has been living and working in New Zealand, the simple set design and small cast was totally different from working on films such as Waterworld, Lord of The Rings and The Tribe. Larry's transition is flawless, his vision is powerful and engaging.
I found it to be a competent and informative performance by the whole cast including newly BSA graduates Paul Thirkell and Bonnie James ??? Lawrence Stubbings (Taming of the Shrew's UK tour, pantomime and new play-writes in production to name a few previous jobs) Patrick McConnell and Lynne Payne - previous NHS commissioned films and stage performances. (also the driving force behind the Rotten Park Road production.) Considering this first screening was only a week in rehearsals the company provided the audience with a near perfect performance.
Patrick played is usual ???disturbed??? character with conviction. His ability to identify with a patient such as his character ???Jack??? was uncanny. Patrick captured some patient's ability to notably tell the ???system??? what they would like to hear rather than what would actually be going through their minds to influence the medical decisions with impeccable poignancy.
Lynne; whilst playing a series of smaller characters, focused her role as a nagging girlfriend all the way through to a concerned and frustrated partner extremely well. Her change of pace really highlighted the enormity of how she was feeling and how mental illness impacts the lives around the patient as well as the patient themselves. I felt her pain as she battled with her on-stage partners behaviour and belief changes
Paul; who has played Frank as one of his first roles, invited the audience to empathise with his situation. The chosen mannerisms Paul adopted for his character depicted instability and uncertainty drawing audience sympathy and understanding. I doubt anyone; even a seasoned professional could have played the part of Frank so well.
Lawrence; playing devil inspired Paul amongst smaller roles of a doctor and nurse, added much light relief into proceedings without leaving the serious connotations of the piece at the way-side. With near perfect delivery Lawrence's performance was; to say the least, believable.
Bonita was able to interchange her characters at pace, I particularly enjoyed her interaction with ???Frank??? as a mental health nurse. From quirky to professional, her ability to adapt to the part given was second-to-none. Certainly one to watch for the future.
With only a short time before the company show ???Infinity??? at The Blue Orange in Birmingham, the production can only get better, if that is entirely possible.
???It is nice to see a piece from someone that has seen things from all angles. Firstly as a patient followed by becoming a provider of care and all the way through to identifying his journey as a writer, The parallels are brilliant when you compare them against other great similar pieces.???
???This could easily be transformed into a brilliant novel. A fantastic first play.???
(director Larry Rew)
Posted June 29, 2012 at 6:02 AM