I Think We Are Alone Review – Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool

Image Source: Wirral Globe

I Think We Are Alone

Format: Play
Writer: Sally Abbott
Cast: Chizzy Akudolu, Charlotte Bate, Polly Frame, Caleb Roberts, Simone Saunders, Andrew Turner & Tarinn Callender
Co-Directors: Kathy Burke & Scott Graham
Set & Costume Design: Morgan Large
Lighting Design: Paul Keogan
Sound Design: Ella Wahlstrom
Associate Director: Jessica Williams
Producer: Peter Holland
Casting Director: Will Burton CDG
Review Date: February 11 2020
Performances: February 11 2020-February 15 2020
Location: Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool
Duration: 135 Minutes incl. Interval
Age Rating: 14+

Frantic Assembly’s brand-new 25th Anniversary production, I Think We Are Alonesurrounds the strains of day to day life and the impact it has on ourselves and others close to us. Six diverse yet similar individuals experience inner conflict. As always, great programming at the Playhouse Theatre delivers the brave and bold, I Think We Are Alone to curious Liverpool audiences.

Synopsis

The piece opens with all six characters moving four partially transparent light boxes around the space whilst a record plays. As the light boxes are moved, members of the cast are often trapped therefore forced into a different space. Josie (Chizzy Akudolu) begins by stating she made the difficult decision to have her dog ‘Queenie’ put down. A room in Josie’s home is formed by two light boxes in which lays a plant containing Queenie’s ashes on one side and a tape player which originally belonged to her late dad on the other. Having suffered such loss, it is evident Josie is feeling very much alone. At her workplace, a hospice, Ange (Charlotte Bate), shares her odd enjoyment of her work as she states many who are dying are the few who are truthful when asked how they are. Ange reminisces about her sister whom she used to be very close with. The two haven’t spoken in years despite living in such close proximity. Clare (Polly Frame) appears to be relatively complacent with her role in human resources and her boyfriend, Steve. Both of which she openly admits are not what she initially wanted. Are her circumstances about to change? During his monologue, Manny (Caleb Roberts) describes his experiences as a working class, Afro-Caribbean man studying at Cambridge. Manny highlights the lack of equal opportunities at the University and racism he encounters from other students. Optimistic Bex (Simone Saunders) who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, arrives to take a look around a hospice. She confidently feels she will beat the illness and return home to her husband/two young children, one newly born. London cab driver, Graham (Andrew Turner) also enjoys his job as he likes to engage in conversation with his passengers. He reveals his wife left him three months ago.

As the performance reaches the interval, audiences consider possible links between the characters. Eager to retake their seats, patrons filter back into the auditorium keen to understand connections between the various strands.

Analysis

A remarkably written script from Sally Abbott allows for some real heart-rending moments contrasting with those of perfectly timed wit. The piece concentrates on themes such as loneliness and abuse. As the characters grapple with their emotions, the love they have for family, friends and at times strangers enables themselves to communicate in sharing their difficulties. Deterioration of both physical and mental health is portrayed through Bex’s cancer diagnosis, Clare resorting to alcohol as a coping mechanism and Graham’s suicidal thoughts.

Stand out performances by Caleb Roberts as Manny and Charlotte Bate as Ange leave audiences wanting nothing more but success for the two. Roberts constructs a comedic, cheeky yet hard-working, caring man who has unfairly experienced discrimination. Bate’s passionate portrayal of a conflicted young woman in Bex, grants willingness from the audience in hope she finds her inner strength and in turn the ability to open up.

The four light boxes, designed by Morgan Large, build a fitting set. Large’s boxes are used to frame numerous environments with members of the cast climbing them, establishing levels. The transparency of the light boxes hauntingly reveals visible figures from behind suggesting the characters are never truly alone. Paul Keogan’s incredibly effective lighting design shifts from deep red, blue tones to an uplifting bright flood as the characters reconcile.

Summary

The featuring of relevant issues such as loneliness and abuse combined with flashes of comedy genius in I Think We Are Alone means it is not to be missed. Audiences are guaranteed to leave with a renewed positive outlook on life as result of a fantastic collaboration between the exceptional writing of Sally Abbott and skilled co-direction from Kathy Burke and Scott Graham.

Notes

Target Audience: Age 14+
Content: Frequent Strong Language, Moderate Sex References
Recommendation: Yes
Overall Rating: 10/10 – Perfect