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Camden Fringe: Pause, Collection Theatre, Lord Stanley

Part of the Camden Fringe 2013
by Serena Haywood
Directed by Tutku Barbaros
★★★★

Pros: Wonderfully tense. An incredibly sad subject matter tackled bravely and performed extremely well.

Cons: The characters’ monologues tended to drag in many parts. Some aspects didn’t really bring anything to the production and could be trimmed.

Our Verdict: Poignant, heartbreaking and rough around the edges.

Courtesy of Moustache Contraption

Twinkle-toed, blue-eyed Chris ends up in a vegetative state after falling from a wall in his early twenties. This was the premise of Pause, which was performed at the Lord Stanley’s Collection Theatre during the Camden Fringe. The play yo-yo’ed back and forth to the events leading up to his fall, and dealt with the way his mother and best friend coped with the aftermath. As you can imagine, this was one of those productions which pulled at your heartstrings.

It goes without saying that this kind of show needs a really strong lead in order to deal with the subject matter tastefully. Indeed, Ryan Wichert (who plays Chris) gave a great performance, leaving the audience saddened and pensive as they witnessed his shift from a joyful personality to a state of complete reliance.

Overall, the cast’s performances were of great quality, but I did have a bit of trouble with the way some of the aspects of the script were presented. For instance, Chris’ mother Victoria (played by Caryl Jones) rendered me frustrated with her chipper attitude to what had happened. She retained the famous British stiff upper lip which we saw devastatingly unravel at the end of the piece. Furthermore, the relationship between Chris and his best friend Mark (played by Samuel Casely) was not very well portrayed, in my opinion. There were hints that they may have had a relationship of another kind, but Mark’s frustrations at Chris’ absence while at University were confusing, and didn’t really add anything to the production. This was in fact a theme throughout the play: I often wondered about the point of some of the sequences, and their relevance to the plot. For example, Chris and Mark shared a moment of childishness a few seconds before a serious performance together. First I thought this might be flashback to their childhood games, but then I was not so sure. Additionally, while the scenes moved smoothly backwards and forwards, some of the lighting cues were questionable: dimming occasionally and not particularly helping to separate the sequences.

However, having said all of that, I can’t help but admit that the play was structured very well and tugged at the heartstrings throughout. While I lost focus on many parts due to the unnecessarily lengthy monologues, there were points I was in complete tears, especially during a scene where mother and son performed a dance together. The overly close relationship of the two was also depicted wonderfully, though the dark turn it took left me shocked.

This production’s subject matter will doubtlessly have made many audience members think hard as to how they would react if a family member or friend were in the same situation. I was left contemplating this for hours after, having to have to few brandies to try and enjoy the rest of my Friday night. It was a very brave production with great potential, though it could definitely have done with a tad more polishing on the script.

Seen the show yourself? Agree or disagree? Submit your own review with our Camden Fringe Big Audience Project!

Pause has now finished its run at Collection Theatre. To find out more about Moustache Contraption visit their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Moustache-Contraption/144374299099364

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