Tuesday, 11 February 2014
Blindsided, Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester, 8/2/14
The first time I ever visited the theatre solo was to see Simon Stephen's ‘On The Shore of The Wide world. It was set in my home town, and I was keen to see it, but couldn't get anyone to come with me, so I summoned up the courage to go alone. I remember being blown away by both the play, and the realisation that plenty of people go to the theatre on their own and nobody stares and points! That was probably the point my theatre interest tipped over the edge into a theatre obsession!
Stephens returns to a Stockport setting with this new play at the Royal Exchange. Set primarily in 1979 it focuses on the relationship between young teenage mum Cathy and newcomer John, both to some extent misfits from Society’s norms. It has echoes of other plays of his I have seen set in Stockport, there are common themes of striving to escape from the mundane, of feeling trapped, although the 'escapes' are seldom successful!
This latest outing is a strange thing indeed. I can't quite make my mind up as to what the writer intended. The speech styles of the two main characters are stilted and un-naturalistic. Whilst this seems to work for the character of Cathy, a stream of consciousness whirlwind with no filter, portrayed in an outstanding performance by Katie West, I felt it was less successful with the character of John. Andrew Sheridan played the part excellently, but I found the character unconvincing and couldn't understand why he would exert such power over the ladies he came into contact with.
The one character that I really didn't 'get' though was that of Issac, played by Jack Deam. I wasn't sure what the character added, and if I'm honest it felt like a waste of a good actor.
All in all, I felt this was an interesting and thought provoking play, and a good contrast to other recent offerings at the Exchange. There were some really strong performances, but on the whole, for me, the play didn't quite hold together as well as I’d hoped.