Writer: Jo Kirtley Pritchard
Director: Martin Jameson
Reviewer: Jo Beggs
We’re in traditional fringe theatre territory here. Loaded is the story of the chaotic life of teen tearaway Chantelle, her abusive step-father, alcoholic mother and gangster boyfriend. Loaded is full of sex, violence, and swearing. It’s even set close to home, in West Gorton, as if to give it a bit more of a threatening edge. These people live a mile down the road. You get on the bus with them.
With this well-worn territory, this could be a tedious and moralizing hour of theatre, but thankfully, writer Jo Kirtley Pritchard knows a thing or two about the urban disaffected. As a youth worker she’s clearly seen some stuff they don’t put on the ‘Visit Manchester’ posters, and she brings a resigned, sharp focused realism to the whole affair. Most importantly she brings a glint of hope.
Kirtly Pritchard’s characters come fully rounded and the cast have plenty to work with. The star of the show is undoubtedly Dolly-Rose Campbell, totally convincing as the 15 year old Chantelle (can Campbell really have graduated in 2008?), arsey, exasperating, and vulnerable in equal measure. She’s well supported by Helen Macfarlane whose upbeat performance as the ever cheerful youth worker Ella belies the dramatic finale, and Rob Ward who creates a convincing bad boy with an unexpected desire to settle down and sort himself out. Darren Connolly completes the cast as vile step-father Larry. Unfortunately an hour doesn’t really offer time enough to give Larry quite enough depth, given that he has plenty of secrets of his own. It seems he mostly there to move the narrative along.
A dramatic turn of events towards the end of the story feels somewhat under played. There’s a sudden hurtling towards a conclusion which feels rather rushed, losing some of the depth and humanity of earlier scenes, a common problem with short plays which try to pack so much in, but it’s still a satisfying end to a fairly accomplished piece of drama.
Runs until: 26 July 2012