Reviewed by Deborah Mackenzie
Frantic Assembly celebrates 25 years with a brand-new production, I think We Are Alone, by Sally Abbott, co-directed by Kathy Burke and Scott Graham.
It follows three different families in a bittersweet and funny take on our ache to connect with those voices we need to hear again, arms we need to feel around us and those faces we need to see again. It’s about letting go, forgiving and knowing what is worth loving the most.
Two sisters, Ange (Charlotte Bate) and Clare (Polly Frame) are estranged and over many years they have only used text to communicate. What happened to them when they were young is haunting them both, they are needing to speak but are pushing each other away using brittle and aggressive language. These childhood events have overshadowed them and leaked into their personal and work lives; they try to cover the horrific memories with drink, drugs and pushing others away.
Josie (Chizzy Akudolu) is grieving the loss of her father and her dog. She is not letting grief get in the way, pushing it aside she fixates on her university aged son, Manny (Caleb Roberts). Josie has planned and guided Manny, who is extremely clever to the ultimate goal of attending Cambridge University. Only wanting the best for Manny, she forgets that she needs to let him choose his own path.
Taxi driver Graham (Andrew Turner) has a huge person shaped hole in his heart; having lost his wife to the Big C, cancer. He is depressed and his thoughts are taking him to dark places. Then a stranger, Josie catches his cab one day, she is in a mood because of Manny and doesn’t want to communicate, no matter how hard Graham tries. Eventually Josie thaws and invites Graham into her home to continue talking as he has finally found someone who is interested in listening.
Graham visits Josie with a cable for her hi-fi system that was her father’s; she had not had an opportunity to listen to the tape cassettes Manny had given her for her birthday. These tapes contained recordings of her late dad and Manny, she becomes emotional when for the first time she hears the words that he loved her.
Eventually Ange and Clare meet; with some bickering and snide remarks between them, Ange is ready to walk away once again. But she stops herself and they open up, revealing what has haunted them both, what has kept them apart all these years. They come to realise that what happened was not their fault, that they were let down by the adults in their lives.
This production covers many unspoken and taboo subjects, these become huge obstacles in lives and often cause years of blame, pushing others away when in all honesty they need to be spoken about. The air is needed to be cleared and realise that these ghosts need to be let go and to hold onto to what we love the most.
The metallic design set was simple, with huge heavy Perspex boxes that are pushed and lifted creating silhouettes and fuzzy shadows. I was amazed how these boxes turned the stage into a variety of different scenes, either isolating or bringing together the characters. With the clever use of background lights, which lit up the boxes, or glowed through them in a way that you knew exactly what they were trying to portray in each scene.
This production attempts to tackle all of society’s problems, the feelings of each person were believable and even though there was the use of humour to gloss over the hurt, it was done in a kind yet true to life way. Having faced several of these problems in my life, it struck me that I really am not alone, but so many others are going through these unspoken problems and need someone just to stop and listen.
I would advise some caution as it this play could cause distress and make you examine yourself as each topic is focused on. Yet on the other hand, I think that it would be an amazing production for older teens to see, so that they can realise that as they are reaching adult hood it is alright to ask for help or talk about their problems.
Tickets cost from £18 (booking fees may apply).
I Think We Are Alone is at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh from 18-22 February 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.capitaltheatres.com or call the box office on 0131 529 6000.
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9LQ | 0131 529 6000