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Can't Stand Up For Falling Down (re:play - Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
One man blights the lives of three women without their being aware of the coincidence. Although single motherhood is considered shameful in the 1960’s Ruby (Lucia Cox) instinctively chooses that option rather than marry the father of her child. He marries the deeply spiritual Lynette (Esther Dix) and his abusive behaviour risks undermining her faith. Jodie (Edwina Lea) struggles with the guilt of witnessing a tragedy for which she was not responsible but could not prevent.

The play opens with a scene right out of Call the Midwife - rows of washing flapping across the stage. But writer Richard Cameron nimbly steps around the misery porn genre to give a lively, even inspiring, tale of redemption and hope.

Cameron’s substantial script is stylishly staged by director Lucy Allan who uses every trick in the book to avoid the play becoming just a series of monologues. The fresh- washed sheets form screens onto which Sarah Hill’s atmospheric period film inserts are projected. The characters switch rapidly from monologue to conversation and the duration of the speeches is abruptly chopped to secure the maximum dramatic impact.

Cameron’s script is highly lyrical and the director’s main success is ensuring that the three characters stand out as individuals rather than just a mouthpiece for the author. Esther Dix delivers Cameron’s most poetic speeches in an understated manner that brings out a humble sense of wonder in the face of nature and also conveys Lynette’s gentle disposition. Ruby could easily become a clichéd gobby defensive woman but instead Lucia Cox offers a bright woman whose humour and self-awareness helps her get through difficult times. Edwina Lea shows the sheer relief that Jodie feels at being given a chance to repair the guilt she feels for an offence she did not even commit.

I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down is a pleasure to watch proving that plays about grim situations need not be depressing in themselves.

- Dave Cunningham