Monday, 25 July 2011

24:7 Steerage

Another day, another play as part of the 24:7 theatre festival. This time I hike over to the Midland Hotel in my lunch hour to see Steerage. Slight wobble as I enter the foyer and have a flashback to the last time I was in this hotel, 24 years old and picking up an exam award, and the awful realisation of how long ago that was!
Anyway, back to the play! I'll steal a bit out of the playbill to explain what it was about "set inside a shipping container it tells the story of ten year old Immy, and her teenage brother Zead, hiding among the cargo. However, the children discover they are not alone. Two strangers, Tamir and Ibrahim, travel alongside them. As Immy faces increasing conflict within the container so she retreats into her own imaginary world"
The room used at the Midland is quite low ceilinged and claustrophobic, but that really works for this production as it feels like you are also hiden in the shipping container observing the unfolding drama. Its an unusual construction, adding haunting music and beautiful puppetry to the mix to depict Immy's inner world. There are some very powerful performances on display, but the one that stays with me the most is Catherine Dowling's depiction of Immy - you believed she was a child, really felt her emotions and as the tension ramped up to a flashpoint I almost wanted to shout out "stop it, can't you see how scared she is". And yet, by the end of the play, she was the most graceful and controlled character on stage.
When I left the performance I was still mulling it all over in my head. Its not perfect, but it is a beautiful and affecting play and I think it will stick with me for a long time.

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