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Digging Deep (Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Venue: Studio, Salford

The narrative follows two sisters reconnecting and revealing each others' pasts, both of whom have concealed a secret shaping their character. From the beginning it is clear that sisters Ann and Lucy do not get on, and haven't for a long time. Lucy (portrayed by Laura Hills-Leigh) is a nurse who finds teenage sister Ann (Amy Dee) in A&E.

At first, I found myself getting irritated by Ann's animated child like behaviour, yet as the play progresses the character development within her exposes a troubled individual. Dee masters the role of a victim. She illustrates with vivid clarity the torture a victim of such abuse goes through, from denial to rage. In addition to this fellow lead Hills-Leigh shines as Lucy. As with Ann's character, Lucy also evolves as a character.

We see her as a level headed, mature and responsible woman to a tormented figure, haunted by her childhood. Hills-Leigh showcases the traits of a victim which aren't shown enough in the media, her capability to fix her stare blankly into the audience projects raw emotion. The relationship between the two came across strained at times yet as it progressed the relationship between the sisters became more believable.

The character development captures the audience's attention, the production centres around the two characters either at Lucy's home or the hospital and what they are planning to do. Just like Lucy is desperate to know what has happened since Ann left the house, so are the audience, we feel as if we are a part of this situation even though we are merely observing.

I found myself forgetting that this production was above a pub, I agreed with many that these performances deserve and need to be shown to a wider audience, rather than the niche gathering it attracted o the night.

Gemma Flannery confronts the issue with tense almost interrogative moments which are complemented and balanced by light comedic scenes. One for example shows a drunken Ann going through Lucy's boyfriend's music on his laptop. A melancholic song echoes to the audience to which she comments "I might as well slit my wrists". Such relatable moments break up the tense atmosphere surrounding the topic of abuse and allow the production itself to be bearable to watch.

The audience isn't jaded once they leave, the balance it has constructs the narrative in a clever way which allows the audience to see Ann as a drunken teenager (and laugh) whilst at the same time remember what she is going through. Successfully conveying the message abuse happens in everyday life and should be confronted and spoke about.

- Elise Gallagher


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