Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

Review: Black Teeth And A Brilliant Smile, Freedom Studios, Cluntergate Centre, 16/06/2019

The venue was packed.  There were 7 rows of seating, with 18 on each row, and there were a few people seated on tables, at the back. 

There was no stage.  The set was as the same level as the seating.  The set consisted of a pub bar, with pumps on it for drinks such as Castlemaine XXXX.  There was pub furniture in front of the bar.  This, like just about every other element of the production, was re-used for more than one purpose.  Not only did all the re-uses work, they enhanced the production. 

The main driver of the narrative is Andrea Dunbar, played by Emily Spowage.  She plays the character of Andrea, and acts as narrator, and plays Andrea playing the character of the London producer.  This part includes the most direct confrontation with the self-destructive elements of Andrea Dunbar’s character. 

Whatever it is that passes for lager in this production, Emily Spowage has to drink at least 5 halves of it, some of them in quick succession.

‘Young Andrea’ is played by Lucy Hird.  But ‘Young Andrea’ is not one character, in the same way that Andrea is not just one character.  Both characters age during the narrative.  This is very expertly handled, in the way the characters are costumed and made up, in the script, and in the acting. 

Laura Lindsay, Claire-Marie Seddon, and Balvinder Sopal, all play more than one part, in the sense that they play different people, as well as people at different stages in their lives.  Their parts are difficult, for different reasons.  They have to portray characters of different social classes, and different speech registers, with hardly any time to enact the change.  It all works.    

The set is re-used, in a way that I can’t describe without giving away the story, but it works. 

And so, I got to walk 10 minutes from my house to a drama venue (the Cluntergate Centre in Horbury), pay £5 to get in, and sit 5 feet six inches from the dramatic action.  The dramatic action was a story which was both new and, in some ways, familiar.  I do not come from a working class background in the Buttershaw Estate in Bradford, but I am a writer who has come to writing via an unconventional route. 

I was captivated by the play.  If it were on at the same venue, tomorrow, for the same price, I would definitely go and see it, again.  But, as regards family planning, or providing a role model for aspiring, working class writers, it is completely useless.  This is not motivational propaganda: this is a depiction of a tortured genius.  You can come from the Buttershaw Estate, and still be a tortured genius, for all the good that will do you. 

One response to “Review: Black Teeth And A Brilliant Smile, Freedom Studios, Cluntergate Centre, 16/06/2019

  1. wthirskgaskill June 17, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I am obliged to Claire Crossdale for pointing out that the header of this post had the wrong month.

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