By: Rosie Sharman-Ward, TRP Reviewer
In an evening of wonderful storytelling, Of This Place brings laughter, tears and worries, much like an evening spent with friends. It wraps us up with a warm sense of community laced with pride of place. Supported by a team of professional mentors and sensitively directed by Stephanie Kempson, Theatre Royal Plymouth’s People’s Company present us with six plays which celebrate our common humanity.
A Place Where – created and performed by Acting Up. Hilarious and poignant all at once, we are treated to tales of misspent youth, gauche and endearing. We hear some of those cringe moments from childhood which become so funny when shared with family and friends years later. We feel the abject terror of being momentarily lost when you are ten.
Base – written by Rose Webber. A powerful, heartrendingly funny play about how difficult and painful it is to be feeling your way as a young person. All exhilarating highs and crushing lows. Those insecure moments of “will they like me?” and the defiant hair tossing “Don’t care anyway” The need to look out for your bestie weighed against being successful yourself. All teenage life is there! A brilliant portrayal.
Oh Rats! – written by Olivia Templeton. Light relief after the teenage angst that precedes it, this is a slightly silly story of a teacher beset by giant rats! Teaching is a very pressurised profession; I speak from experience. With OFSTED looming, one could be forgiven for wondering if the rats in question were allegorical.
The Eye of the Storm written by Samantha Carr highlights simply and cleverly the experience of most women in our society, how to stay safe when out alone and even more, the anxiety of keeping our daughters safe. How to be able to claim the freedom all should enjoy without becoming one of the alarming statistics of women harmed or killed. This stirring and thought provoking piece resonates with the audience. It scares and saddens me that this is still necessary.
Out of the Rubble written by Paul Cooke looks at the how the closed and dangerous world of the LGBTQIA+ community eased a little during WW2. Set against violent family opposition, opportunities for love and companionship, hitherto unavailable, becomes a surprisingly positive side effect of bitter conflict and hatred. We are left hoping that having found this freedom they manage to hang on to it when the war ends.
Our Hoe – written by Chris Swabey. A loving tribute to Plymouth’s favourite place which will make Janner hearts swell with pride! There are many nods of recognition, smiles and laughter from the audience as the characters promenade, feast on Cream Teas, (cream first please, we are in Devon!) walk their dogs and watch the ferry. If Smeaton’s Tower could wink and smile, I’m sure he would!
Neverland – written by Timothy Norman is beautifully drawn cameo of a chance meeting all that breaks our hearts and then mends them with hope. Deliciously defiant and vulnerable with fabulous shoes, “Just Felix” meets Peter Pan fan Eric, (they/them), and relive childhood dreams. It is charming, painful and illuminating watching them discuss what happened to those dreams. I can’t be the only one who wishes they will both get in the taxi and continue talking.
Stories bind us together as a community, listening to the stories of others brings understanding. Everyone has a one and whilst this show comes with a host of hair-raising content warnings, these stories can all be heard in any good pub of an evening. They even buy you a drink afterwards! An uplifting and inspiring production.