Monday, 5 August 2013

24:7 Blunted, 26/7/13

Alice Brockway is becoming something of a 24:7 stalwart. I first saw her in the astounding 'Future Shock' in 2011' then she appeared in the touching 'The Interpreter, Home' in the 2012 festival. This year she writes and stars in 'Blunted' an affecting piece concerning the pain, confusion and anger that surround the aftermath of violent crime.
The play opens on Tess (Alice Brockway) alone, emotional, clearly suffering, although initially it is not clear exactly what has taken place. As the play develops we discover that her partner has been killed in a senseless attack, by the very people that Tess was trying to reach out to in her role as a music teacher in a deprived area. Tess' best friend Evie (a spirited performance from Lowri Vivian) and her partner Jay (John Mulleady) are trying to support Tess in their own way. In an attempt to make sense of the situation Tess returns to the scene of the attack and meets Glen, a former colleague of her partner who witnessed the attack and tried to help. She reaches out to Glen, who is dealing with his own sense of guilt that he couldn't stop the attack, and they support each other, to the concern of the protective Evie.
The play is at its best when portraying the pain, loss, confusion and anger that come in the wake of this kind of crime, and the desperation of those close to the victim to find a way to help them through the pain but not knowing the right thing to do. It is extremely well played, the creators have worked closely with Victim Support in the development of this play and it shows. There is no 'right' way of dealing with grief and anger, everyone finds their own route through, and it's just as painful for those witnessing the suffering, as those at the heart of it.
Brockway gives a brave and accomplished performance as Tess, her pain, confusion and raw emotion is very much on show, but portrayed in a very 'real' way that had me in tears on more than one occasion. Vivian and Mulleady show the conflicting sides of close friends well, the brave supportive side that is on display to Tess, the private turmoil and despair of seeing someone you love suffer and not knowing how to make it better, and the fierce way you will try and protect your loved ones if you think someone could hurt them. And the character of Glen is a good addition, well played, the 'outsider' who may be able to help but is cautious of making things worse.
The play isn't perfect. I think you need longer than an hour to 'get' the complexities of Vivian's character and understand why her relationships with both Tess and Jay are so strong, as to an outsider she can grate, although it’s a spirited and energetic performance. And for me the 'graffiti' scene in the flat could have been cut with no loss to the central core of the tale. Having said that, for a one hour play on its first outing this did an amazing job at showing the complexities of grief, particularly in the aftermath of violence, with excellent and brave performances, especially from Brockway (there is one scene where you literally want to run onto the stage and hug her!) and it would be wonderful if it could be developed further.
Emotionally strong and thought provoking. A great addition to the 24:7 legacy

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