Monday, 30 October 2017

REVIEW: People, Places and Things at Bristol Old Vic


People, Places and things, the highly acclaimed play by Duncan Macmillan is now on tour around the leading University cities at the same time as the original cast open on Broadway. It is a very modern play dealing as it does with mental health , alcoholism and drug addiction and the need to avoid the people, places and things that trigger that addiction. It is not comfortable viewing but the overall sense at the end is admiration for the central performance of Lisa Dwyer Hogg and the slick production and direction of Jeremy Herrin.

Lisa Dwyer Hogg plays Emma (or Nina or Sarah) the actress who following an on stage breakdown checks into a clinic for addiction therapy. At times we can't tell if she is acting, lying, or telling the truth and it demands a full on intense performance being on stage throughout the production . It must be exhausting to play and though we never like the character we can't take our eyes off her as she painfully reveals her inner most thoughts. 

Her best support comes from Andrew Sheridan as Mark , a fellow addict and Trevor Fox as Paul, another recovering addict and who doubles up as Emma's Geordie Dad. They both play critical roles in her therapy and their scenes together are excellent.

Less successful was Matilda Ziegler as the restrained Doctor who leads the therapy and later as Emma's Mum. They are emotionally restricted , one dimensional parts in sharp contrast with the multi layered emotional addicts.

They are joined by an ensemble cast of Michael Balogun, Susan Lawson-Reynolds, Ekow Quartey, Imogen Slaughter and Aimee-Lou Wood, and some local actresses.

The clever set design by Bunny Christie has itself many secrets to reveal which
help move the setting slickly from the clinic reception to group thereby room to Emma room at the clinic and to her home bedroom . This accompanied by dramatic jarring lighting and sound design mean we feel her breakdown as well as see it. This is most effectively done as Emma withdraws from her drugs and hallucinates multiple versions of herself.

However the plays success depends on the central performance of Emma and Lisa Dwyer Hogg delivers.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★★
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