Pros: The cast had brilliant chemistry, creating awkward scenes as effectively as they created happier moments.
Cons: There were a few too many clichéd lines in the script, which did take away from the authenticity of the drama.
‘We Just Keep Going’ focused on the relationship between a mother and daughter and how the addition of new men in both their lives affected this. At first it seemed they are a normal mother and daughter with the relationship highs and lows that this can entail, particularly in the moments where Ruby (Elle Van Knoll) was a teenager. But it became more and more obvious throughout that there was a dark secret lurking, which was never discussed between the two of them and was creating a huge barrier in their relationship. This added a welcome air of mystery to the occasionally predictable play.
The ‘big reveal,’ when it came, did not surprise me. This may have been because the show seemed to be ticking boxes of the clichés found in the sometimes-difficult relationship between a mother and a daughter. Although the script prompted laughter as you recalled your own memories of family life, the dialogue sometimes felt unoriginal.
There were some serious topics touched upon, such as self-harming and eating disorders. Initially, I felt that these were dealt with in quite a trivial way, which I found jarring. However by the end of the play the emotions were so raw and powerful that this was forgotten.
The play spanned across nine years. We saw Ruby’s 16th, 18th, 20th and 25th birthdays marked by a cake and simple set changes to their family home, which was an effective method of showing the passing of time. As the years progressed the plot developed, however, at times it felt rushed. I wanted to see characters develop more within each time period. It was hard to empathise truly with a character you didn’t know much about.
The cast were strong and had obvious chemistry, which made tensions between characters very effective. An awkward date made me squirm in my seat and a family gathering with extended silences caused a wave of awkward laughter throughout the room.
While the play dealt with some intense issues, it also has some brilliant comedic moments. Although slapstick humour was perhaps an unnecessary addition, there were some clever one-liners. An anecdote about the use of online dating app Tinder was particularly entertaining as Ruby tried to explain the concept of “swiping” to her mother.
Overall this play was entertaining; it had a heart and, despite the clichés in the script, the characters were believable and relatable. ‘We Just Keep Going’ was a brilliant study of family life and how family bonds are strong enough to overcome many challenges; a sentiment that most audiences can really embrace.
A final note: The Hen and Chickens is a lovely theatre pub just opposite Highbury & Islington station. It has friendly staff and a cosy atmosphere and you soon feel at home. Although I’d advise that you get to the pub early if you want a seat for your pre-show drink!
Author: Elle van Knoll
Director: Helen Oakleigh
Producer: VKU (Elle van Knoll & Scott Westwood)
Booking Until: 19 Septmeber 2015
Box Office: n/a
Booking Link: https://www.unrestrictedview.co.uk/van-knoll-unlimited-present-we-just-keep-going/