DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

Sugar – Live Theatre, Newcastle

Reviewer: Anna Amblez

Writer: Catrina McHugh MBE

Director: Laura Lindow

Sugar is a bitter, bitter account of four women’s sad life experiences; it centres on them being homeless, on probation, in prison and their routes into prison.

Annie (Taja Luegaezor Christian) first appears and in over half an hour recounts ten years of her gruelling life. Seduced by a boy who has her working to cover all bills and feed his addictions, gives her three children and then has her sectioned. Her life becomes one continual round of alcohol and drug abuse combined with prison. Taja holds the intense frustration of her character throughout.

Next is Julie (Paislie Reed) retelling from an early age how she was sexually abused when her drunken mother put her in her partner, Gerry’s bed. Finding escape in alcohol and drugs, corrupt partners use this to satisfy their addictions. Reed delivers a strong sense of the perpetual merry-go-round she is on.

Third is Tracy (Zoe Lambert) an older homeless woman who fell apart when she lost her beautiful, home, husband and children. This monologue has the first glimpse of humour, some desperately needed relief from the intense stories relayed. In the darkest hour often a laugh transpires as a cry for release, or one could explode with the pressure. Tracy is joined by Rita (Christina Berriman Dawson) introducing a duologue as opposed to continuous monologues. Rita was also sexually abused at home from an early age and abuse continued throughout her life; she says “All I want is to be is normal” but sadly this never happens. Lambert and Berriman Dawson bring an intimacy to their characters, a feeling of natural humanity which one could connect with.

In conjunction with Live Theatre and Meerkat Films, ‘Sugar’ is a piece of theatre made for film to be released in June 2020.Fittingly premiered on International Woman’s Day, this piece argues against the injustice administered to women, argues for change, change of attitudes, change of care and support for women who suffer from hate, sexual, domestic, drug, alcohol, physical and mental abuse.

Founded over twenty years ago the award winning company, Open Clasp, brings another revealing, intense, stark insight to injustice and suffering of women in our society. This project was started in 2016, using discussions interviews, workshops and direct interaction with women whose stories are told here. Based on hard facts and real women’s lives, honesty and truth shines through the piece.

One can see how “Change the World One Play at a Time” is Open Clasps aim. The Artistic Director and writer McHugh “collaborates with women” living on “the margins of society” creating “theatre for personal, social and political change”. This 90 minute film will hopefully take some steps to help change and improve their lives. Certainly the packed theatre endorsed this hope.

Screening from June 2020

The Reviews Hub Score

Traumatic True Life Drama

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Jacob Bush. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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