29 September to 1 October 2014
Reviewed by Chris Barker
I was not entirely sure what to expect as I took my seat in Stage 3, the smallest and most intimate of Northern Stage’s theatres.
Forty seats, a full house, a small stage and on it a wooden stool upon which is perched a retro looking amp/speaker.
Some dim white festoon lights are strewn above the audience. There is nobody on the stage.
Tom Walton, the creator of this unique theatrical experience has taken this show around the country for some time now, and I really do not want to spoil it for potential theatre goers by explaining what happens.
What I will say is that this is not traditional theatre. There are no props beyond what I have described, and indeed there are no actors as such – well not on the stage anyway. Don’t worry, yes there is some audience participation, but it is done sensitively and without humiliation. This play, if that is the right word, is about human observation. It tries to explore the complexity of or thoughts and how we interact. There is a little psychology going on here, and weaved in and around there is also a tale – sort of.
The audience will come away a little perplexed and perhaps wondering if they know a little more about their fellow patrons but really the random thoughts and observations that are applied are just that.
When We Embraced is very original, and quite stylish in its simplicity. I also thought it was about twenty minutes too long, which considering the performance was only an hour long sounds rather negative.
Taking contemporary theatre to this extreme is novel and something that is interesting to experience but didn’t quite do it for me. Perfect Fringe material, and even more so if it was shorter. I didn’t feel this was quite enough to stand up for itself but it was unusual and strangely memorable.
It was written and performed by Tom Walton, FallenFromGrace Theatre Company. Northern Stage is a modern theatre and arts venue, located within the Newcastle University site. This means parking may not always be straightforward but there is on street parking outside the university which is free after 6.30pm.
The theatre has a licensed bar and restaurant, and there are also snacks available. Ice cream was on sale during the 15 minute interval. The theatre is fully accessible.
For more information about shows at the Northern Stage visit www.northernstage.co.uk or call the box office on 0191 230 5151.
Northern Stage, Barras Bridge,Newcastle Upon Tyne,Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RH