Nottingham New Theatre.
Nottingham New Theatre.
Back in the 1960's/early 1970's there was a programme on TV called "Comedy Playhouse" which gave a rostrum for young, up and coming writers to, if the BBC thought were good enough, showcase their talents, and many famous faces and writers came out of this stage. Visiting the Nottingham New Theatre must be a bit like that for many reasons.
There are many reasons why I love seeing the plays that are presented by these students. The majority of the plays are all written by the students, so you have no prior knowledge of what the play is about. That gives a certain impact on the audience member.
The acting is incredibly good in these plays and you get to experience a certain rawness as well as a professional slickness in all areas of staging and presenting a piece of theatre.
"Infectious" is a new play, written by Emma White and while the title doesn't really give an awful lot away, it has the possibility to mean several things, depending on the viewer.While it can refer to a disease or a disease causing organism, it can also mean likely to spread or influence others in a rapid manner. Both of these definitions can be aimed at this piece.
"Love is infectious" is a line and a statement in the play, among others. As the play progresses you also get the feeling that Jessica, the character in this two-hander, played by Felicity Chilver isn't talking about spreading laughter as the mood takes a different turn.
Jessica's friend is Abbie, played by Daniella Finch, we learn is portrayed in flashback and we soon see why that is. This also explains part of Jessica's personality which comes to light as the play unfolds.
Emma's writing is clever as it sets you up with several possible thoughts but then leaves you to decide on what happened. There are pointers from Jessica as to whether Abbie is actually there with Jessica, and Abbie re-enforces this near the end. Is Jessica's story, which at the start meanders between what could be the truth and her imaginary little world where she invites audience members to play out some of her favourite film scenes, real or not. That question remains unanswered, and Emma leaves that to be discussed by decided by the audience after they leave. You see I told you it was clever.
Aside from the audience participation, there's a certain amount of unscripted work, something that Felicity played to with ease.
The set, in one of the NNT's smaller, more intimate studio theatre performing spaces consists of a kitchen setting as well as a non descript space which is used for most of the story telling; the kitchen used more for the flashback scenes.
There was one very subtle but incredibly powerful piece to close the play where the lights dimmed, but the spotlight stayed on one empty chair for just a while longer, giving you time to mull over the previous build up speeches and action and possible conclusion.
The play is a female tour de force. Not only are the two characters women, and the writer a woman, Emma White also directed the piece, but it was produced by Emily Sterling, the technical director was Joanne Blunt and the design assistant was Emily Wong. The only male input was from Ben Woodford, who designed the lighting and Max Miller who designed the poster. Together a very strong team and sadly possibly one of the last pieces of theatre these women produce for NNT.
There's plenty of laughs and plenty of thought provoking imagery....or is it imagery?
"Infectious" can be caught just once more on Tuesday 14 March 2017 at the Nottingham New Theatre as part of their Spring Fringe Season.