People, Places and Things @ The Cambridge Arts Theatre Review

Addiction, the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity. Emma was having the time of her life. Now she’s in rehab. Clinical isolation fronted with an existential crisis, People, Places and Things sits you down in therapy and asks ‘How do you think this story ends?’.

Courtesy of Cambridge Arts Theatre.

Courtesy of Cambridge Arts Theatre.

Following a critically acclaimed, sold-out season at the National Theatre and the West End, People, Places & Things visits Cambridge as part of a UK wide tour. In the Arts programming, they pull in a diverse audience to shock and brutally engage. An intoxicating play about surviving in the modern world, truth cannot be found and Emma finds this impossible.

A Headlong production, physical and episodic the construction makes for an addictive watch. Fast paced transitions, multi-rolling and unhinged moments of breakdown, all brutally attack the action forfeiting Emma’s power. Everything about this production is loud, the music reverberates in your chest cavity, the bright white lights stain your eyes and the sight of blood hurls your stomach, all with the intention to disorientate and create a world of pure dependancy.

Bunny Christie’s set design has toured well, maintaining all the complex scene changes previously seen on the West End. Multifaceted, the set which plays to a traverse audience is mobile and transferable. A portrait of institution, a bed, bathroom and stackable classroom chairs all form the world of Emma’s rehabilitation. Projection is abstractly used in the box set design, extending efforts of withdrawal and failure with destructive graphics.

Powerless over nouns is the resounding message of the rehabilitation programme, giving meaning to the title of this play. Lisa Dwyer Hogg (Emma) is ’A scream in search for a mouth’, open, emotionally unbound and frenetic, her portrayal of an addict is equally believable and disconcerting. In the development of the play, Headlong, spent time in a rehab researching institutionalised life and this can be seen on the stage. Duncan Macmillan gives words to express the difficulty of dependancy, stripping the individuals of pretence for the onslaught of honesty.

‘A world of purposeless chaos’ where Emma the actor can hopefully move forward as herself rather than her characters. I leave the theatre heavy hearted and questioning the truth of addiction, is it created by nature or nurture? 5/5

Review written by Megan Mattravers.

People, Places and Things is currently showing until Saturday 25th November 2017 at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. For more information on the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop