Writer/Director: Kate Cotterell
Reviewer: John Roberts
The Altru Young Actors Company, following up from 2014’s thought-provoking Missing,returns with another difficult subject matter – this time, the company tackles the tricky and often misunderstood topic of depression. Over the past year, more coverage has rightly been given to discussing the condition and so Perspectives stands strong as a timely piece of theatre.
It’s clear from the first line to the final bow that the five young actors in the company treat the subject matter with a level of confidence and maturity; their focus gives weight and gravitas to the words they speak, and although at times moments of nervous energy sneaks in it doesn’t distract, instead it strangely reinforces the fact the words that are being spoken could belong to anyone of us, and in fact probably at one moment in our lives actually do.
We follow the fictitious story of Mikey (played with a powerful sense of realism by Tom Martin) as he struggles to cope with the increasing demands of trying to pay his university tuition, cope with the workload and the pressures put upon his social life (It’s scary to think that this situation could become even more a reality with the latest government cuts scrapping grants for the more disadvantaged in our society). The piece interweaves monologues from Mikey’s cousin Leah (played with assurance from Katrina Murray), his best friend Will (an understated but clear performance by Tom Denham) and hairdresser trainee Christian (a colourful portrayal by Craig Pinnington). Credit must also to Viki Carter, who brings weight to a slightly more abstract character that pulls the strands of the piece together.
Director Kate Cotterell keeps things relatively simple in its delivery, just four chairs and piles of books litter the stage, but the action is pretty static. This does help bring the focus on to the words the character share but a bit more movement wouldn’t have gone amiss. Likewise underscoring the piece with instrumental music really helps to bring out the emotional impact of what is being shared, one would, however, argue that the use of some well-known pieces of music starts to distract you slightly when you hear them. Small niggles in what is otherwise a strongly performed and important piece of theatre.
It is genuinely pleasing to see groups involved in deep conversations about the themes and what they had just seen in the bar aftwards– the real sign that a piece of theatre strikes at the very heart.
Runs until 21January 2016 | Image: Contributed