UPFRONT THEATRE by CLAIRE DOWIE
BOOK LAUNCH 15th May 2017 at BIRMINGHAM REPERTORY THEATRE at 7.00pm
A celebration of the longstanding collaboration between Claire Dowie and Stage2 Youth Theatre to launch Upfront Theatre recently published by Bloomsbury Methuen. The evening will feature extracts from three plays adapted by Stage2 director Liz Light for Stage2 from Claire Dowie's solo plays: Why Is John Lennon Wearing a Skirt? Arsehammers and The Year of the Monkey and one completely new play Hard Working Families which Claire Dowie wrote specifically for Stage2. Claire Dowie will be performing alongside Stage2 members and the performances will be followed by a short Q&A with Claire Dowie and Liz Light.
The wonderful Stage2 Youth Theatre premiered Hard Working Families by
Claire Dowie at the Crescent Theatre Birmingham January 7th -
On May 4th Bloomsbury Methuen publish the collection Upfront Theatre which includes Hard Working Families alongside three of Claire Dowie's plays revised for large casts by Liz Light & first performed by Stage2
also available on Amazon
Adult Child/Dead Child
Rating: ***** (review by James Waygood)
Dowie’s piece is lifted to intense new highs
by an inspired vision and an impeccable cast.
What’s most beguiling about Dowie’s writing is not only how free and natural the central character is, using unembellished and down-to-earth anecdotes and experiences, but the simple yet incredibly effective poetry that runs throughout the entire piece. It really emphasises and brings out the emotions and certain plot points that hook you right into the character’s story and plight without any effort at all. This poetic grasp of language really adds a simple yet lavish texture and rhythm to the text that makes the piece incredibly easy to listen to and engage with, but without adding any unnecessary theatre or pretence to someone who is very definitely a human character.
It takes us on a heartbreaking and absorbing journey of a child who has been let down at every step of the way into adulthood, resulting in a life on the edge of both reason and sanity. Laced with little garnishes of humour, it’s a deep, honest, and angry look at mental health, complete with gorgeously devastating insights into the fragility of human mentality. Nothing is exaggerated or over-dramatic, which is what makes it speak so directly to an audience and makes it so affecting. It taps so effortlessly into the uncomfortable delicacy of the human condition, and how easy it is to be destructively cruel to someone.
The treatment of having seven actors play moments of the same character adds not just a certain sense of variety, but also intrigue. We don’t get seven interpretations of a character, per se, but several different perspectives. The issues explored within the piece always stay the same throughout, but the angle and empathies are slightly different from performer to performer. It’s fascinating, whilst always ensuring the narrative and clarity of the piece is never muddied. This is heightened by the fact that the actors cast here constitute a wonderful cross-section of gender, age, and culture, meaning you really get kaleidoscopic points of view that are difficult not to connect on at least one level by drawing on the performers own charismas.
But what’s most extraordinary about the entire cast is how they feed off the audience. You get the feeling that some of the writing could come across more light and comic at various points throughout. But as the audience ended up having a bit more of a severe reaction to the show for this particular performance, each performer works with this rather than against, responding and complimenting the atmosphere augmenting it’s effect on people to an astonishing apex.