Writer: Jo Fisher
Director: Alan Pattinson
Reviewer: Helen Jones
Footlights is a local company which have a belief in tackling subjects which affect the community around us. Following on from their successful production The Queen Is Dead, they have moved on to bringing the subject of domestic abuse to the forefront of their audience’s consciousness. And Then You Kissed Me is a verbatim play using stories of both male and female survivors, male perpetrators, support workers and the police. The writer, Jo Fisher, has done an amazing job of weaving these disparate tales into one cohesive whole. It makes uncomfortable watching but the varied angles taken mean that no matter how distressing the information given, the message is the paramount outcome.
Some of the stories are told in parallel, some seen from only one side, others from both sides. With some stories you also get the viewpoint of people on the outside, the social worker, the counsellor and the police officer who couldn’t help as no “crime” had been committed.
Working with a team of five actors, Director Alan Pattinson, has managed to bring out the differences while highlighting the similarities between his characters. Each actor takes on mutiple roles, the subtle changes in movement and voice creating individuals. The actors, Anthony Clark, Sasha Corfield, Orla Cottingham, Khara J Pemberton and Matthew Stead, all work hard and are uniformly excellent.
Matthew Stead switches between an arrogant abuser and a worried father with convincing capability, while his police officer is suitably officious. Sasha Corfield portrays the woman who always ends up in an abusive relationship but finally finds it in herself to make a life away from the men who hurt her. Orla Cottingham is more often in a support worker role but her part as the wife worn down by her aggressive and abusive husband, is frighteningly realistic while facing off Matthew Stead’s bullying depiction of her husband.
However standout performances are from Anthony Clark and Khara J Pemberton as the abuser and victim in a horrific narrative where the relationship seems fine and the man initially a nice guy, but the relationship deteriorates as he becomes violent and puts the woman in hospital with her face so badly beaten that she needed plates to rebuild parts of it.
Domestic abuse is never going to be an easy subject to create a play about, and these true life stories will tug at the emotions of even the most cynical. Thankfully in the capaable hands of Jo Fisher and Footlights a show which could become hysterical or overdramatic, instead becomes a dynamic piece of theatre and well worth watching.
Runs until 14th January 2016 | Image:Contributed