The award winning Screaming Inside, written by Stephen Findlay and presented by the Brighton Theatre Collective, is a powerful and compelling drama about the cyclical nature of child abuse. This is a one-man show charting a year in the life of Stuart Pearce, an awkward, techno geek - the “Lone Ranger” of the 4th floor IT department. He shows us how on the outside he’s plain old Stuart, a man who you would probably choose to avoid. He is the guy who is always the butt of his work colleagues’ jokes; however, inside he holds a lifetime of disturbing secrets of his dark and violent past. Unable to take part in the real world, he’s remains in a state of permanent boyhood, screaming inside, waiting to take revenge…
The show is performed in The Basement - a unique venue, with seats all around the stage giving it a really intimate feel. The stage is an open plan design of his flat which allows an interesting and effective use of the space. The show opens with Pearce Shane Armstrong unpacking his shopping in an unpredictable, but somehow organised, manner with his slightly over-the-top perfectionist streak already showing. He then places one single candle into a tiny cake, puts on a paper hat and turns on the video camera.
He moves to the centre of the room and sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to himself, clearly announcing the time and date. It’s obvious that he is alone; his only companion a video camera, which he uses to document his life religiously. The audience are immediately engaged and eager to see more from this peculiar character.
Each scene is set around an event in Stuart’s life, such as Christmas, his birthday or Valentines Day. There is a coordinated narrative of the present but also memories of the past, interlinked with his funny encounters with people in the supermarket, or the tales of his spiteful work colleagues. As the show goes on more is revealed of his dark and abusive upbringing. Armstrong manages to hole the entire audience’s attention for an hour a half with his brilliant and captivating acting.
The piece builds up to a thrilling and unexpected climax but leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, with, as they leave, many in the audience feeling desperately sad for Stuart’s life and guilty for, maybe, judging individuals like Stuart. Screaming Inside is a superb piece of truly outstanding writing, topped off with an unparalleled solo performance.