Writer: Nathan Lucky Wood
Director: Emily Collins
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
The first ten minutes of Alcatrazare terrific. An 11-year-old girl leaves home in search of the most famous prison in the world, and she thinks she’s found it when she spies a secure building just off the city’s canal. She’s seen the film with Clint Eastwood often enough. Meanwhile, in an old people’s home, care-assistant Peter has given all the residents tinsel to put around their heads as it is Christmas Eve. Soon two worlds collide.
Peter is on edge as his boss has said an inspection can happen at any time, and when a stranger announces that she is Inspector Eastwood, he thinks he’s about to lose his job. But the two misfits strike up a friendship of sorts, and this relationship is the highlight of Nathan Lucky Wood’s new play.
It’s always tricky when adults play children, but Katherine Carlton (with no cast list, apologies if this is wrong) is very believable as 11-year-old Sandy, and Wood provides her with an impressive vocabulary that she has picked up from her teachers at school. While Carlton manages to carry the play in its quieter sections, her conversations with Peter are a delight. He may lack ‘imaginative capacity’ but he has some of the best lines in the play and Joshua Asaré delivers them with perfect comic timing.
When the play slows down to explore issues like Alzheimer’s and the quality of care in Britain, the story isn’t so engaging and sometimes becomes a little mawkish. Sandy’s grandmother hears voices, and these are represented by another actor, bellowing orders in a German accent down a microphone, a feature that doesn’t quite work, or get many laughs.
Even as the story begins to drag, Alcatraz’s heart is always in the right place, but we can’t help but wish for the excitement of the play’s beginnings. Under the direction of Emily Collins, her team make full use of The Cavern, and Rachel Sampley’s lights throw some vivid shadows onto the damp walls. All in all, it’s a tidy production with some fine acting, by Carlton and Asaré especially.
Runs until 3 March 2019 | Image: Contributed