Theatre in Wales

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An absolute must see production

At Theatr Clwyd

Clwyd Theatr Cymru- A History of Falling Things , Sherman Theatre , May 13, 2009
Phobias are curious things. They are irrational fears only truly understood and appreciated by those who suffer with them. Their complexity does however make them perfect fodder for creative exploration, as brilliantly demonstrated in Clwyd Theatr Cymru’s A History of Falling Things.

James Graham’s new play is a modern day love story chronicling the electronic courtship of Robin and Jacqui who both suffer with keraunothnetophobia – a fear of satellites falling from the sky. Their phobia essentially leaves them incapacitated, both too afraid to venture even an inch outside their own front door. They meet online and whilst discovering that they live only streets apart, communicate solely via webcam. As a tender and charming relationship evolves the biggest question remains – is the one thing that brought them together going to be the only thing keeping them apart?

Mark Bailey’s set displays both imagination and perception; the two characters remain detached in their separate worlds by a large, fragmented crack in the ground, teetering on the edge but afraid to make that final jump. Projection is used effectively to illustrate the pair’s online conversations whilst delicate lighting serves to create a fitting atmosphere.

Sion Pritchard gives an outstanding performance in the role of children’s book author Robin whose phobia advanced from an early age when a shoe fell on his head from above. Pritchard tackles his characters troubled mind with conviction whilst ensuring that we never lose sight of his delightful charm and wit.

Playing opposite him is Kate McGuiness who is both delicate and touching in her portrayal of Jacqui, a young woman confined to her childhood bedroom due to a phobia first experienced after the London bombings. Despite the complexity of her character the strength of McGuiness' performance ensures the audience share every emotion resulting in a deeply moving encounter. In supporting roles Ifan Hugh Dafydd and Di Botcher both give delightful performances as the caring single parents desperately trying to bring normality to their children's lives.

Kate Wasserburg's intelligent and thoughtful direction complements James Graham's script which is littered with memorable moments as funny as they are poignant. The strength of this production is in its simplicity, it is at heart a romantic comedy which will make you laugh and cry in equal measure whilst not forgetting the paralysing effect of personal fear. Whilst perfect is an ominous word, this production comes as close to it as I have seen this year - an absolute must see production.

Reviewed by: AmyStackhouse

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