Friday, 14 October 2011

The Resonance of Seclusion - Whitworth Art Gallery 5/10/11

Tonight I went to an Art Gallery, to see a play about an artist, see I'm becoming quite the culture vulture! And it was an absolute delight!
I first heard about the development of this play on twitter of all things as the writer and director, Liz Postlethwaite, is from one of my favourite theatres, the Library Theatre Company. Her own company, Small Things, was developing a play based on the life of Joash Woodrow (1927 - 2006), a reclusive artist from Leeds who created an amazing body of work that only came to light, and to critical aclaim, after he moved to sheltered accomodation in 2000.
Anyway, Small Things set up a twitter feed, and by following that I was able to get an insight into the development of this project from concept to staging, which I found fascinating. So once the tickets were available I was straight on the phone to book my place (which was then followed by badgering my pals to come with me, Louise took up the challenge!)
So on a dark, rainy October night, we were ushered into the atmospheric setting of one of the galleries at the Whitworth, for the performance, and what an experience it was. A small cast, and a very simple set with minimal props, and no real 'off stage' area, and yet we saw Joash's family upbringing, education, withdrawal and eccentricities, family relationships, passion for his art, and eventual recognition.
It's hard to describe what was so magical about the production. It was a touching story, beautifully told and cleverly staged, in a very atmospheric setting. As it progressed the audience were completely capitvated. I just found myself totally lost in it. It was well constructed, good characterisations, with some nice touches of humour and an obvious affection for its subjects.
It seems a bit mean, in such a small and good cast, to single out performances but I am going to anyway! Lowri Evans played a number of characters, and even without the costumes changes, they were so well observed that you would have known exactly who each were as soon as she entered. And Niven Garner potrayed the journey of Joash from, boy to old man, wonderfully. There was one point in the play, probably partially lost on the portion of the audience at the far end of the U shaped seating arrangement, where you literally saw Joash age before your eyes through subtle changes in stance, set of the face and movement, which was quite remarkable.
When the play ended I was really moved, and felt so glad that I had been able to be a part of it. I believe it may be developed further and have a life beyond the Whitworth. I hope it does, and I hope I can be part of its magic once more.

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