Rebekah Harrison’s new play performed as part of the 24:7 Theatre Festival in Manchester epitomises what this festival is about; well written, well produced and well performed one-hour plays that deliver quality work in interesting surroundings.
This production tackles a subject most people do not like to think about; domestic violence, but does nothing to sugar coat or glamorise the issue nor does it paint an unrealistic situation where everyone lives happily ever after but really is food for thought.
Set in a women’s refuge we meet Donna (Jessica Higgins) with her two children Kylie (Stevie Adams) and Liam (Trystan Chambers) who has just arrived after leaving her abusive husband and explains to the children that their new home will be temporary and it will be a bit like a holiday. Desperately trying to hold it together, Donna is faced with sharing her home with strangers, other women with their own stories while trying to keep to severity of the situation away from the children. She is welcomed into this strange community; bonded by their experiences of abusive men in their lives where day to day live revolves around applications for re-housing, trips to bingo and whose turn it is to buy the milk and make the brews.
Christabel Brown plays the character of Amy beautifully. Desperately seeking friendship with all she meets, she is a lonely soul with a good heart but isolated in this world. Pam is the matriarch of the group. A little older than the others with grow up children, she to has experienced an adulthood filled with sorrow. Each woman allows the audience a glimpse in their world and seek solidarity against a common enemy; fear. All performers are superb and all deserve praise.
My only criticism is the introduction of the some physical theatre when Liam is expressing himself. It is unnecessary and adds little to the performance. The writing is of a truly high standard and does not need this extra element and the play builds and builds in intensity to a shocking but fitting climax.
This is 24:7 at its best and The Milk and Two Sugars Theatre Company have opened with a winner.