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The Sapphires

One, Nineteen (Salford)

By • Northwest
WOS Rating:
On 19 January, the west coast of England is devastated by floods. First to arrive on the scene are the news teams, looking to spin a story about the tragedy. This play explores the power of the media and the responsibility of the government, as well as the issue of climate change and the epic search for “Sam, Jack and little Chloe”.

The story plays out through multiple narratives, with different voices illustrating how easily a story is distorted. Each location is created on stage through neat direction by Mike Friend, and use of minimal props – umbrellas and wellington boots quickly conjuring up a flooded town. Tim Stimpson's subtle dialogue itself creates a picture as a couple searches their ruined house by torchlight.

The cast contends well with a lot of disjointed dialogue, adeptly creating the television environment as they address much of their speech to imagined cameras. Matt Lanigan is excellent as a ruthless reporter, managing to claim the World Trade Centre attack was “brilliant” - from a news point of view – before quickly asking for his comment to be withdrawn.

Mini Suharwardy is both funny and moving as the mother of the missing children, thrust into the limelight, manipulated by the media and accused of neglect.

The piece is very word-heavy and the split narrative can be hard to follow, particularly when voices overlap – but it's still very accessible, as we're all familiar with the relentlessness of the media it represents. In poignantly isolated scenes, the environmental activist (Steve Cain) clamours to draw attention to the reasons behind the flood – the strongest message being that no one is watching what really matters.

- Harriet Chandler


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