From There To Here - Theatre ☆☆☆☆4
Showing from - Saturday, January 24, 2015 through till Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Liverpool Central Library - Liverpool
Johanna Roberts | Saturday, January 24, 2015
This afternoon I walked past the Liverpool Empire – advertising the blockbuster 'Mamma Mia' - and along to the beautifully remodelled Central Library to see theatre and creative arts company, Wicked Fish perform a very different type of drama.
And that’s because the recent winners of the Echo Pride of Merseyside award are a very different type of theatre company, comprising, as their website states, ‘five Disabled People, three of whom have Learning Difficulties’. ‘From There to Here’ is part of the project ‘People Like Us’, (the website is fascinating: wickedfish.org.uk) to examine the lives of people with learning difficulties in Liverpool over the past 100 years. Indeed, the performance, while undeniably entertaining and engaging, poses serious questions for the audience about our attitudes, past and present, towards the challenges faced by such people and how society relates to them.The performance, while undeniably entertaining and engaging, poses serious questions for the audience
We start in the past; using simple props and a minimal set, the company recreate the atmosphere of the Royal Albert Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles of the Northern Counties (made me gasp, too!), a Victorian institution (established 1868) to care for and educate children with learning difficulties. The story unfolds of three of the inmates, Maisie, Sarah, and Robert, played with honesty, humour, and conviction by Jane Fradley, Nicola Brooks and Neil Bramwell, all student members of Equity, with Trevor Fleming skilfully taking the roles of narrator, head gardener, priest and doctor. We see the arrival of Sarah, her developing friendship with Maisie, Maisie’s frustration and refusal to conform, and Robert’s love for the garden he has helped create. Using only the lightest of brushstrokes, (and unfazed by the constant noise from children in the library), the actors deftly delineated the individual characters, inviting us into their lives.
We then move into the present. Jane, Nicola and Neil quickly take charge of a quiz so that rather than being an examination of what the audience know about Down’s Syndrome, it shows what people with Down’s Syndrome want us to know about them, rapidly demolishing some commonly held assumptions. A sharply insightful and humorous dramatic interlude follows, forcing us to question and compare today’s attitudes of ‘one size fits all’ activities at day-care centres with those of the past. Wicked Fish may not be presenting a West-End blockbuster, but they are using drama to ask questions, to challenge assumptions, and to give a voice to those whose stories might otherwise have been lost.
Well worth seeing!
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