Sunday, 17 November 2019

REVIEW: Poisoned Polluted at the Old Red Lion


Kathryn O’Reilly’s second play tackles traumatic and painful subjects head on. Child abuse, drug addiction and growing up are all on the agenda of Poisoned Polluted. Against a backdrop of luscious green forestry, the two sisters flashback and forward retelling the trauma of their childhoods and reliving the games, the pleasures and the memories of their past. 

Kathryn O’Reilly plays Sister, the older and more weathered of the two. She tackles Sister’s addiction and psychosis with honesty and truth, utilising her wonderful physicality to truly embody the crippling anxiety and excruciating pain that Sister experiences throughout her life.

Her is played by Anna Doolan. The more grounded of the two characters, Her is constantly reaching out to help her sibling, often with little effect. Doolan plays the desperation and the helplessness of Her with precision and clarity. The two actresses work brilliantly together to push and pull the text and embody the story.

With movement sequences intertwine with the monologues and dialogue, the play is rooted in both naturalism and non-naturalism.

With a simple set from Mayou Trikerioti consisting of 4 boxes, 3 chairs and a TV with autumnal leaves and forest print creating a backdrop, our attention is easily drawn to every minute detail of the actions, reactions and movement sequences played out before us. The colour pallet has been carefully selected to incorporate everything we see, combining every piece of costume and set into a unified world of life and nature. 

Lucy Allan’s direction is precise and supported well by Sophie Shaw’s movement
direction. They work together to create a piece that is honed and relies on both emotional truth as well as physical truth; a challenge the two actresses tackle well. There were small mistakes in the blocking which led to faces in shadow and the movement was not always incorporated into the story seamlessly, but it all worked together to set the tone of the piece. The text also requires some tiny adjustments, especially in the longer monologues where thoughts are fleeting and the energy is frenetic. This would help some moments to settle more.

With a brilliant underscore permeating every moment of the show and well-timed moments of both beauty and horror, this show is far from poisoned; its salubrious.

Review by Max Topliss

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Unreserved | Price of Ticket: £15.50
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