Thursday, 12 May 2016

"Adult Child/Dead Child" by Claire Dowie
Nottingham Playhouse Ensemble

Just from the title itself, you'd think that this is going to be a pretty depressing play, but, although the play deals with depression and mental illness, this is one play that really makes you think about your children, for those like me who have kids, and what they may be thinking.

The 12 actors of varied ages all play the one character, un named and could be either male or female and they tell the story of what that child thinks and sees in her own mind, the way the child's parents treat, or mistreat them. The child is unloved, twisted by the world and unable to make herself understood, until she gets a friend called Benji, an imaginary friend who causes all sorts of trouble and whispers things in the child's ears and tells the child what to do. The whispers turn into shouts and screams and the child finds it really difficult not to say no to Benji.

It all seems to partly stem from "The Lady" who shows kindness to the child, a kindness not shown by the child's parents, but when the lady moves away, the child again feels dreadfully lost and expresses the loss by outbursts of anger.

The parents don't understand and end up taking the child to a children's psychiatrist, which ends up having the child sectioned because of Benji.

There is a very powerful message by the end when the child, who has now grown up, replaces Benji with an actual companion and seems to settle with the replacement.

it's an incredibly candid view of mental illness from the eyes and mouth of a child and is a real educational eye-opener, wonderfully, and almost poetically written by Claire Dowie. A powerful, moving and dark story of the challenging path from childhood to adulthood which we all aren't privy to.

Jake Brindley, Maggie Burrows, Jessica Hardy-Turner, Katy Knight, Zoe Lamb, Bryn Leadbetter, Rachel MacDonald, Tania MacDonald, Oran McGuire, Noor Osman-Britton, Rachel Ross and Carolyne Willow are the cast. Brilliant orators and picture painters with the script with great talent for mime. There's a lot feeling and emotions expressed with the role of the child and at times you wanted to reach out and just give them a collective cuddle in a fatherly type of instinct. You could feel the hurt they were going through, and what parent wouldn't want that hurt to stop?

Directed by Allie Spencer and Amanda Hall, assisted by Jake Brindley and Jessica Hardy-Turner, I can only imagine that this can't have been the easiest of plays to direct,and possible not the easiest to perform either, but what a powerful piece of drama this is to present.

Listening to the soundtrack of this hour-long piece of drama, there's been a careful selection of songs to accompany the piece. From the joyous freedom of Madness' "Our House" to the Eurythmic's track "Here Come The Rain Again" which when you listen to the lyrics, fits in with the storyline of "Adult Child/Dead Child" perfectly in so many ways. very apt choices.

Sensitive lighting design , as well as the sound, was the responsibility of Will Welch.

After the success of last year's production of "Animal Farm", this is another success to add to the list for the Nottingham Playhouse Ensemble, and a play which will stir the old grey cells.

"Adult Child/Dead Child" is on at the Nottingham Playhouse Neville Studios until Friday 13 May 2016 and is definitely one to see.

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