A touring company from the West Midlands welcomed to Cardiff’s pub theatre, there is a sense of uncertainty from the outset. As you walk into the theatre space the four members of the cast are welcoming and engaging the audience. Envelopes are distributed, introductions are made. The performers are at the whim of the audience as to what role is played.
As is, Joe Boylan takes the role of the brother; Bryony Davies as the mother; Craig Hamilton as the Narrator; and, Ellice Stevens as the girl.
There is something intriguing about this, a wonderful confidence in how well the performers appreciate the roles and the story- from all perspectives. At times your mind wonders, pondering the other performers potential in each role.
In retrospect, the story delicately unfolds. In reality, it is engaging, intriguing. Empathy is created with each of the characters.
The brother- escaping from the girl to Thailand, seemingly wanting to have taken this adventure, never breaking the bond with his sibling.
The mother- appreciating the emotions of the Girl, never wanting to show weakness of a mother having to overcome, always feeling like an outsider.
The girl- presented at the outset as using her one phone call to contact her brother. All roads leading back to ‘The Big Bang Theory’, social interaction far from easy.
The Narrator provides the tension. As internal monologues unfold, there is no chance of sympathy, as the narrator gives challenge to views which could give cause for empathy, additional dimensions are explored- physically and verbally.The performance incorporates so many segways, linking intricacies within the story as it bounces along. The play creates moments which make you wonder whether you are seeing the character or the performer. Appreciating them none the less. This interpretation, improvisations gives sight to the underpinning direction by Ali Pidsley, there feels like there is structure within each character and yet at times there is conviction in ‘just going with it’.
The title of the piece is never fulfilled, whilst it feels like a more powerful subject is being acknowledged. To me, the existence and effect of depression. It never feels fulfilled as a theme, and whilst the impact of depression feels explored, you are left with questions- the most immediate display of a person with depression, and the traits across the characters all seem to be devoid of acceptance of self.
The play starts with a scenario, and as it ends it does not feel the scenario has moved. More disconcertingly it reveals traits across the piece which are neither acknowledged or explored. They just exist.I felt relieved by the performance, I wasn’t ready for rage or violence.
I was ready to see depression explored, in any scenario, and on stage always allows a casual or direct empathy, a way to move conversation forward.
There was an energy in the performances, the range of interpretations and techniques adopted ensured engagement. The role of narrator as a gentle interrogator to mood and behaviour. The energy created enabled the pace and exploration of the more mundane, monotonous and real-life.
The play itself is much-needed, we need to talk about mental illness, and its impact on all it encompasses. Whilst far from light-hearted, Barrel Organ provide an engaging approach to exploring seemingly taboo themes.
Some People Talk About Violence is at The Other Room, Cardiff until 25th November with tickets available from the website.
Disclosure: I was invited to the performance for the purpose of this review. All opinions and words contained are my own.