Pure: Blue, Manchester
Cell is an intense and, at times, disturbing look into a day in the life of Hickey, a very bright but damaged young Irishman who has endured years of over expectation and pressure with the result that he has now withdrawn into a reclusive lifestyle with an imaginary alter ego questioning his every decision and where his only contact with the outside world is the internet and the meals his Mammy delivers to his bedroom door.
Ailis Ni Riain’s short study into the life of this complex character hits mostly all the right marks effortlessly mixing humour with poignancy and, in the case of Mammy, a deeply sad sense of loss. The characters of Hickey and Mammy are established quickly but are well rounded and consistent throughout the duration of the piece. However, Mickey, the alter ego, sits uncomfortably within proceedings.
Jane Hogarth gives Mammy a delicate sadness and is utterly believable as a mother at the end of her tether. Ben Worth is passable at Mickey, but he lacks the stage presence the other two possess. The play really belongs to Gareth Cassidy who puts in a tremendous performance as Hickey. Every expression, movement and nuance is intricate and riddled with meaning. This is real talent.
A lot of credit should be given to director Paula Simms who utilises the small performance space and Ros Henderson’s set well. Appropriate music, some original written by Ni Riain, is introduced at appropriate times serving to enhance the tension and atmosphere.
Of all the 24:7 Theatre Festival productions I've seen this year Cell is by far one of the strongest and could well be a springboard to greater success for those involved.
- Malcolm Wallace