Things I know to be true
After watching this play in the Hammersmith Lyric theatre my perspective on family has been completely transformed. This emotional play had me drop my jaw in the first five minutes and I couldn’t pick it up until the very end.
Everything was stunning - not only the acting, but the physical theatre aspect, the choreography, lighting and sound. It is unbelievable that only three weeks of rehearsals for this collaboration between Frantic Assembly and State Theatre Company South Australia could allow something so extraordinary to be created. Yet what built the play into a masterpiece was the actors. At the end of the play the actors and directors were asked several questions including:
How did the actors and director feel about the play?
They all agreed that it was wonderful to ‘revisit’ it after a year of not being on tour with it. They explained how their relationships with their fellow actors grew and how the words of the play were ‘beautiful’. Arthur Wilson (who played Ben) was a new actor in this play and talked about how he had to find his place in a show that was already created, explaining that despite this being ‘challenging’ he found that with the supportive company it was easier than he had anticipated.
How they built up trust for such a physical play?
Answers varied but most agreed that the very frantic series of warm-up exercises began immediately to build a competitive streak amidst the crew which helped encourage socialising and friendships allowing trust to be built as everyone came on board. Arthur Wilson described this as a ‘condensed version of starting school’ with all the usual anxiety but explained that when you spend so much time with these people you are quick to notice their habits and you quickly bond over subtle things.
How do you become the character?
Kristy Oswald (Rosie) explained that she could relate to aspects of the play but refused to allow herself to get connected to anything, as if you reach into your own experiences it is too ‘self-indulgent’ and you become overly vulnerable on stage. She went on to explain that it is very emotional when you are on stage and performing so you must react to what the actors say as your character would react and not from now you would (or have) react[ed] as that is when others cannot relate to you and you begin working in a ‘tiny world’ and can no longer reach out to other people.
Arthur Wilson agreed that although you could draw on some of your experiences you shouldn't dwell too much on internal emotions, as they they are not universal for others to relate, saying that acting ‘has to be alive’ and that ‘acting isn't acting it’s reacting’; you just have to react to what is going on stage. He further explained that he did not judge his character as that would prevent him from being able to act out the depth of Ben.
How do you deal with such delicate subjects?
The director explained that they had ‘informative rehearsal progress’ where they reached out to people from the community and discussed these issues and how the actors should talk about these issues. In this play we also see the family flaws and now they deal with such issues, talking about how ‘love can be torturous’, which is brilliantly presented in this play.
Overall the play was absolutely stunning and I would definitely recommend it.