“Even a hug for twenty seconds produces dopamine”.
Sally Abbott’s play for Frantic Assembly , the groundbreaking theatre company who are celebrating twenty five years of innovation, puts isolation and closeness front and centre.
Directed with energy and verve by Kathy Burke and Scott Graham, six people from London navigate perilous paths to better understanding and communication.
Sometimes, Abbott’s script shines. Bex (a quietly heartbreaking Simone Saunders) is a woman suffering cancer who is clinging on by her fingernails, and her sweet husband Graham (Andrew Turner) doesn’t know how to carry on without her. The scenes between them are subtle, tender and moving.
Elsewhere, moments feel a little bit like soap opera tropes. Sisters Clare (Polly Frame) and Ange (Charlotte Bate) haven’t spoken for years because of a terrible shared family secret; yet the tension between them is resolved too easily.
Designer Morgan Large’s massive Perspex boxes close in on characters, or slide away. This is a particularly effective device when characters remain static, either blurring or enhancing scenes, like interlopers in their lives.
Mostly, though, there’s a heart and warmth to the show, personified within the wonderful central performance by Chizzy Akudolu as Josie, a woman who can’t let go of her student son Manny (Caleb Roberts). She is a brittle but loving presence, in a big city determined to swallow up its residents.
Currently touring across the UK. Reviewed at Kings Theatre, Edinburgh.