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Celluloid (Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: The Three Minute Theatre
Where: Manchester

Celluloid is the second offering from new fringe company Dream Avenue who recently enjoyed success with their original play Dream On. Whilst this new play is not perfect and has a few flaws, it shows that writer Lloyd Eyre Morgan has a real talent for dialogue.
The play tells the story of a family who are on the brink of being torn apart due to a past event that sent the mother in to a downward spiral. The son and daughter deal with the pain in different ways, Josh hides behind a camera capturing the families undoing on film whilst Nicola uses alcohol and drugs to numb her pain.
What Celluloid does successfully is show us a family desperately trying to hold it together by using live action and video projections. The videos show us how the family we see today came to be and also the images that haunt the mothers mind.  This is played to great effect and for a low budget theatre company - the attention to detail on screen is fantastic. The son and daughter are written to perfection and become the heart of the show; as it’s through their eyes that we see the pain.
The play also cleverly adds much needed humour to a disturbing subject matter thanks to secondary characters that also become wrapped up in the drama. Where the play is less successful is that sometimes the focus of the play becomes a little confusing and at times we don't know exactly who we should focus on. The resolve to the mother’s issues is also very quickly brushed over and a couple of the characters seem quite disposable.  However, these are all things that could easily be fixed and I’m sure will be as the play continues to evolve.
The casting on the play is one of the shows big strengths. Daniel Booth and Sian Hill are wonderful as the brother and sister. Balancing humour and heartache is a difficult thing to do in a play dealing with a heavy subject matter and they more than rise to the challenge. Zoe Iqbal as best friend Christine is something of a revelation and her comic timing had the opening night audience laughing along every time she walked out on stage.
Celluloid is a show that could benefit from some cuts but it still managed to be one of the most interesting and enjoyable fringe shows I have seen recently.  On this basis, Dream Avenue are off to a good start and are a welcome addition to the vibrant Manchester Fringe community.

- Craig Hepworth


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