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The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, The Door

Leaving
4.0Reviewer's Rating

Leaving is a verbatim performance sharing real stories of young people who have experience being in care, those who have left care or those working in the system.  The text is built from interviews Amy Golding (director) and Paddy Campbell (playwright) conducted with people connected to the care system, making the piece unmistakably driven by the sense of personal connection and the real people behind the text. Performers wear headphones to partake in recorded delivery – a technique whereby the actor listens to the original interview recordings and deliver the speech with precise intonation and inflexion of the interviewees. This format was executed to much success in order to portray an honest, moving and reflective piece of theatre.

The play begins with an announcement explaining this concept. Ironically, this is actually a bit of a shame as it means audience members are deprived of the joy of stumbling upon this themselves. The company’s reasoning for wanting to explain their format as clearly as possible is certainly commendable, but announcing it at the beginning takes away a certain level of mystique and intrigue from this unique set-up.

Despite this, the stories these individuals tell are without a doubt at the forefront of the performance. It is refreshing to see a piece about issues in society without feeling an overt sense of anger, as while Leaving touches upon this, it is far from the overwhelming message. Instead, we are lead sincerely through lives and stories as opposed to arguments and opinions by five actors, each strong in their versatile delivery. Each performer was able to successfully tell the stories through recorded delivery, yet never cross in to imitation, always respectful to not make a ‘character’ from their words.  Special mention must go to Matt Howdon, as he delivered Sadeed’s story. Howdon’s emotional reaction to the words he relayed was clearly a sign this piece is not one of fiction, but still raw and important to discuss.

Overall, this performance is coherent in its aim to give a voice to those having experience being in or involved with care. It is beautifully designed, both visually and audibly, and is clearly driven by the voice of experiences, rather than an explicit need to entertain an audience.

  • Drama
  • By Paddy Campbell
  • Directed by Amy Golding
  • Cast includes: Jackie Lye, Rosie Stancliffe, Kate Okello, Luke Maddison, Matt Howden
  • The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, The Door
  • Until 14th April 2018
  • Time: 20:00

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