F.E.A.R. is a production which will keep you engaged, in a good way. But it will leave you with questions, questions which won’t leave you in such a good way. Questions which confront where fear starts and how you can end it.
Gareth Clark is the writer and performer. Agneiszka Blonska takes on what must be a challenging role in developing and directing F.E.A.R.Because F.E.A.R. is clever ‘in your face’ theatre. It’s not in your face in a challenging sense. I want to say it’s not challenging in an uncomfortable sense. But this is it’s beauty. It’s tremendously uncomfortable. You are looking in on the narrative of someone’s life. And this someone is not a world away from you, someone is a person you know, because, you just do.
It seems Gareth is telling his life story. And it’s a familiar path, looked at from a different perspective. From one of which has grown with fear.
It resounded. I recognised the messages of my childhood. And I sat pondering on the messages I offer my children. There was irony in my thoughts given I thought it was a good thing to volunteer for the road safety scheme at my children’s primary school and wondered at the ‘why’, I wondered at the messaging I have given.
I reflected on bringing up B. Where I’ve made a determined effort not to check on his behaviour at school, but focusing on whether he’s enjoyed his day. It’s true, I didn’t want him to fear telling me about his day for what I might look disappointed about.
And that’s just my experience. I have no doubt each line resonated differently with each individual.
This was a beauty in writing, the creation of familiarity. The careful challenge of belief.
The story becomes more frenzied, as the pressures of adult life implode.The fears which grow in childhood and carry through to middle-age. Of adulthood, and today, of terrorism, sexuality, and mortality.
And whilst this challenge is thought-inducing, uncomfortably so, it is delivered with such candour, with self-depreciating humour. It is personable whilst questioning, probing into where life will take us, what the future holds, with consideration for how we got to where we are.Marega Palser’s choreography and lighting design offer the journey through Gareth Clark’s life additional context. The lighting design echoes the feelings expressed, of focus when you want to hide in the shadows, of mood. There is purpose in movement, this is a story to be told and to do so means the audience’s attention must be focused. And it is, words and physicality are aligned to keep humour, to maintain empathy.
This is no doubt a brave piece, it is a frank and open expression of self, for all to see. It is uncomfortable, and whilst this may be in a performer’s disclosure it is also in the audience receiving these messages. Questioning where beliefs are obtained and how they are held.
For all of this, this raw emotion, the pressures in our everyday life, there is such humour.
And I wanted a happy ending. I wanted to leave with hope.
There isn’t a happy ending. This is the reality of our world. But there is always hope. There is hope in the creation of dialogue. There is hope in appreciating differences.
F.E.A.R. should be experienced, if you have the opportunity. It may not change your life. It may not make you happier. F.E.A.R. will offer an insight. It will give a candid, honest account of life. It may give you a wider appreciation. Of not being alone.
F.E.A.R. is on tour at the following locations:
21 – 25 February – Chapter, Cardiff
NB 25th February will be BSL interpreted and audio described.
4 March – Galeri, Caernarfon
8 March – Aberystwyth Arts Centre
11 March – Small World Theatre, Cardigan
16 March – Parc and Dare, Treorchy
18 March – AMATA, Falmouth
22 – 24 March – Riverfront, Newport
7 April – Borough Theatre, Abergavenny Disclosure: I was invited to the performance for the purpose of this review. All opinions and words offered are my own.