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Thursday, 28 October 2021

REVIEW: If You Love Me, This Might Hurt at the Camden People's Theatre

It’s a very impressive feat to stand up for an hour and talk about your own trauma and experiences in an engaging way that doesn’t feel like a Ted Talk. This is what Matty May has achieved with ‘If You Love Me This Might Hurt’. 

We enter, and immediately it’s clear that this is a ‘safe space’, if you’ll excuse the hackneyed term. Bright coloured pieces of paper with odd words scrawled on them on the back wall, and a squishy armchair making up the set, it’s clear this isn’t going to be a dark affair of suicide and trauma. Except really, that’s exactly what it is. 

We travel through Matty Mays thirty-something years with them, learning of their fears, insecurities, and most formative experiences, shaping and steering them towards the difficult choices they made when they were at the lowest points of their life. I hesitate to write about their very personal story, as it's not mine to share but will take my cue from May, who opened the show stating that they feel safe enough to talk about their own self-harm, so we should feel safe enough to watch. They share with us their three attempts to die by suicide. 

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

REVIEW: The Book of Darkness & Light at Camden People's Theatre

For The Book of Darkness & Light, the auditorium of the Camden People's Theatre is bare and semi-dark. Centre stage, a wooden crate is standing upright and serves as a coffee table for a pewter tankard and three artificial candles. These emanate a pulsing orange glow, strong enough for me to see the violin laying on the floor. On the other side of the crate, there's an empty chair.

First to walk onto the stage is Ben Styles, whose accompaniment at the violin is the undiscussed highlight of this 60-minute ghost stories showcase. Like a lament, his first note echoes from wall to wall, tearing the silence before drowning in darkness. A second longer note floats in the space like a slow cry, sending chills down my spine.

When the door opens again, another man slowly walks in, holding a lantern high up and inspecting, one by one, the spectators sat on the front row. He's wearing a black suit, with a white shirt and a black tie, his overcoat is also black, but his scarf is red, and his shoes are brown. For a second, I get distracted by this detail and I start wondering about the odd choice.
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