Wednesday, 22 July 2009

No Wonder - Heart Off The Ground, 24/7 Festival Manchester

No Wonder
Writer: Claire Urwin
Director: Guy Jones
Reviewer: Clare Howdon

‘No Wonder’ has been on quite a journey. Since being premiered in 2008, it was invited to be part of the NSDF and is currently playing as part of the 24 7 festival. Delivered as a series of monologues and duologues (where the characters never actually speak directly to each other) Luke (Paul Currie) and Alison (Heather Johnson) recount the evening their father/husband falls from a window-sill and subsequently ends up in a coma. Taken from the viewpoints of a mother at the hospital bedside and son in his bedroom drawing pictures, this is a moving and poignant tale of childlike wonder and the pain of having to grow up too soon.

The Peter Pan parodies are cleverly crafted throughout and Clare Unwin is undoubtedly a playwright of great creativity and promise although sometimes her abundance of observations and metaphors make this piece feel more like spoken poetry than a play. However this is a small criticism in what is ultimately a very stylish and fresh piece of writing.

Both Paul Currie and Heather Johnson deliver admirable performances although Currie appears more comfortable and convincing in portraying the age of his character with excellent child-like mannerisms and relentless energy, portraying the tormented young mind of Luke. Johnson’s strengths lie in her ability to connect with the emotional impact that the event has had on Alison, although one never quite believes that she is old enough to be a mother and more attention needs to be paid to maturing her performance, so the contrast between mother and son are clear throughout.

Guy Jones’ direction is generally slick and well paced although there are some moments of contrived and gratuitous stage business (for example the emergence of a naked doll to punctuate the dialogue) which seemed a little unnecessary and detracted from the strong writing.

This play has a massive amount of potential. The writing is original and stirs the audience’s senses thrusting you very quickly from a state of child-like magic and innocence to the harsh and painful reality of adulthood. With further work on direction and characterisation, this could be a real theatrical tour de force.
frontpage hit counter