Tuesday, 21 February 2017

"Touched" by Stephen Lowe.
Nottingham Playhouse.
"Touched" originally opened at the Nottingham Playhouse on 9 June 1977, directed by Richard Eyre. This time around, Matt Aston was the director and matt introduced modern age technology to the play to update the mechanics of the play.
The play is set in 1945 during the hundred days between VE Day in May 1945 and VJ Day in August 1945, a period which also included the election of the first ever Labour government and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The play focuses on a group of working-class women in Nottingham, especially Sandra and her sisters, Joan and Betty. Sandra has lost a son, killed by a car in the blackout. With peace coming, she is full of hope for a different kind of future.
The play was influenced by Lowe's mother, and the play is focused on the women who were left behind when the men went to war. Their struggles and sacrifices and the bond the women had with each other and the moralities of the women.
It's a working class play written for working class people and it's nice to hear the accent performed in true Nottingham. many times you hear the accent either diluted or taken way over the top but here, it were spot on. Compliments to the voice coach, Kat Hicks. Plus you can relive some of those magical Nottingham sayings you heard from your mother when you were just a kid.
The cast, Vicky McClure (Sandra), Aisling Loftus (Joan), Chloe Harris (Betty), Elizabeth Rider (Mam), Esther Coles (Mary), Luke Gell (Keith), Sarah Beck Mather (Bridie), Ian Kirkby (Harry), George Boden (Johnny), Isobel Gilbert (Pauline), Eve Mclaughlin and Kaiya Withey didn't outshine each other, which was a good thing because they were all supposed to be equals and that really stuck out.
I'm one for taking in the whole theatre experience and noting light (Nick Richings) and sound (Julian Butler) and these two really complemented the story and production, creating atmosphere.
The sets looked a lot more comfortable than I would have imagined them to be for this period of working-class Nottingham. the clever use of cinematography on the scenery set the time line and added exterior scenery, taking you from Sandra's comfy home to the woods in Colwick in a flick of the fader, or switch or whatever these technical wizards throw to transport us to another place visually.
The ending is quite magical, but also with an overtone of shock, so keep an eye on the blossom tree before and after. The magic of theatre still excites me with touches like this.
An enjoyable trip back to 1940's Nottingham with some serious topics highlghted. I have it on good authority though some of the scenes have been changed, like the tin bath scene, slightly. Good authority? Yes, I'm married to the original "Pauline" who first appeared in 1977, when she was nine years old, at the Playhouse along with Brian Glover and Marjorie Yates.
"Touched" is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 4 March 2017.

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