"The Skriker" by Caryl Churchill
Nottingham New Theatre.
Churchill's story of a shape shifting faerie who emerges from the underworld to wreak havoc and terror on the world. The play's most sympathetic characters are two young women, played by Boo Jackson and Emmy Latham. One has killed her baby; the other is pregnant. The Skriker haunts them, tormenting and enticing as well as taking over the bodies of anyone who takes their fancy to do their mischievous little jobs. In a away reminiscent of Puck in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
The Skriker’s language waterfalls from sense to utter madness, as if trying to find the correct word or phrase.“Pin prick cockadoodle do you feel it?” The opening, delivered by three Skrikers (Emma White, Ronan Lee and Beth Summerfield) is like a dysfunctional nursery rhyme setting the pace for the disorderly and eerie mood to come.
The other cast members are Beth Angela, Arshia Jain, Josie Macgilchrist and Will Baglin, making the play predominantly female, focusing on the secondary subject of the play as the horrors and fears of bringing new life into the world. In a way parallel to the introduction of the shape-shifting Skriker from the Underworld into the human world. Or am I reading too deeply into this play?
Directed by Joe Strickland, assisted by Emma Summerton, this is an interesting play, and a fascinating choice for the New Theatre's first New Slot. I imagine this was an interesting project for the directors and producer James Collyer to work on.
The set design, also by Joe Strickland, was interesting. using a two tier format, it split the dark Underworld from the upper human world with a wonderful entrance from the Underworld by the first image of the Skriker, Ronan Lee, using quite balletic movements to move around the set giving a spooky stalking impression.
The lighting, by Joanne Blunt, also provided the stark change of scenes and added to the eeriness and air of tension that hung over the audience. Completing the production and technical crew was Sam Layton as the Tech director.
Again this play was only on for two days (should have been longer) and from the appreciative crowd it attracted on Thursday, it could go a few more days, maybe later in the year.
Another play that reinforces my love for University theatre productions as they do not shy away from lesser known plays and are not afraid at taking risks. Something that outstanding theatre is based on, and something that bigger theatre groups can't financially take the chance with. This often means that a lot of wonderful plays go unperformed to a wider audience.
Nottingham New Theatre, I salute you.