Writer: Catrina McHugh
Director: Rosie Kellagher
Movement director: Krista Vuori for Frantic Assembly
Reviewer: Charlotte Broadbent
Jumping puddles is the first collaboration between Open Clasp Theatre Company and Frantic Assembly and endeavours to give a voice to women in the North East. In the early stages of devising the creative team worked with over 162 marginalised women in the North, from Liverpool to Newcastle to help inform and create this production. The show focusses not only on the pressures facing young women but the extended struggles that come with facing the reality of life.
The play opens with the young Anna (Lauren Kellegher) entering the space, which has been constructed with scaffolding and cardboard boxes. She examines the boxes and begins to unpack but a curious shift in her physical tempo helps communicate the surreal and extreme emotions of the character. She moves in slow motion, then is suddenly sped up and back again. She is then joined by sister Grace (Molly Roberts) who joins in this journey of shifting boxes and creating the space. This poetic scene is brought straight back down to a banal reality of two sisters fighting over the best bed in a dank and featureless home. The play moves mostly between the girls home and Anna’s school, with a few chairs and rostra serving as furniture.
The play is a four hander with Maria Crocker and Paislie Reid filling in the other characters. All of the actors cope brilliantly with such a physically demanding piece. Roberts gives a particularly moving portrayal of the older sister trying to be strong while sinking further into a depression. And a special mention must go to Maria Crocker who provides excellent comic relief as a YouTube beautician.
Director Rosie Kellagher has identified with some themes in the story that parallel her person life. This depth of understanding is clear in the directing with sensitive observations and subtle gestures. With such a profound plot Kellagher hasn’t neglected the dull reality that often accompanies great and tragic events and it is this detail that gives the characters such dimensions.
With the creative input of movement director Krista Vuori there are several moments where movement is used to convey an emotional message which speaks in great volumes. One very powerful moment was when the girls create a nightclub and simulate a horrible experience for the character of Anna. While this was very important to the story and an inspired moment of physical storytelling, it did run long. However, this did insist that we as an audience acknowledge and consider what had happened as opposed to moving quietly on. The message is thoroughly enforced.
The use of projection is used throughout to reveal text messages and letters. This is an effective way of sharing a personal message with the audience in a technological way but at times was difficult to follow who was being addressed and who was speaking the messages.
All in all, Jumping Puddles is a thought provoking and honest piece of theatre that certainly succeeds in its aims of giving a true voice to women in the North. Advised for audiences of 13+ and running at just over an hour, it is definitely a piece of theatre that is worth experiencing.
Reviewed on: 10th February.