27 September 2014

Freak at Theatre503 was warmly dark

Theatre503 has become one of my favourite theatres simply by putting on invigorating plays.

Their location helps too as they are just a short bus ride, or a moderate walk, away from Clapham Junction. And they are above a reasonable pub, The Latchmere.

This was my first visit to the pub after a significant refurbishment, it was closed for a couple of months, which seemed to leave the interior unchanged, though it was had to see the pub as it was full of people watching football on the many large screens. I think Arsenal were playing.

The food menu had changed too but, as with many gastro pubs these days, the vegetarian options were somewhat limited. I did find something nice to eat but with a limited choice I am not going to rush to eat there again.

Anyway, what I was really there for was the theatre.

Freak came to Battersea via Edinburgh where it had garnered the good review that enticed me to go and see it.

The play started with two women in two beds in two bedrooms, simplified for the stage to one bed.

One, Leah, was fifteen and starting to be seriously interested in boys and sex. This involved using industrial amounts of Veet.

The other, Georgie, was thirty, had just come out of a relationship and was struggling to find any joy or purpose in live. This changed when, on a whim, she got a job as a dancer at a men's club.

They both spoke to us directly, diary style, which helped with the intimate feeling of the play. As did sitting in the customary front row. The two stories were interesting individually and the contrast between them made the whole greater than the sum of the individual parts. There was a lot of emotion in those stories and the mood ebbed and flowed through joy, apprehension, sadness, regret and many more.

And then the older woman's tale took a very dark turn and the stories changed.

Then they became one story as we discovered how the two women were linked and the one bed on the stage became just one bed in the one story.

It was a very emotional play and the actress playing Georgie, Lia Burge, had trouble stemming her teams when she came back out for a thoroughly well deserved ovation. April Hughes as Leah thoroughly deserved her ovation too.

Fear was a provocative play about change and adversity told with simplicity, intelligence and some heart-breaking acting.

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