Pros: The show had a strong direction, wonderful execution and resonates entirely with modern relationships
Cons: Unsuitable for a younger audience as it contains fairly regular strong language
The Tristan Bates Theatre boasts not only a wonderful, practical space, but also a magically creative and friendly atmosphere from the box office, to the bar, to the stage. This was the perfect intimate space to showcase the story of two women who’s love has been interrupted by an illness and a literal bubble, which keeps Charlotte Hamblin’s character safe but prevents physical interaction between them. Both characters substitute the ability to touch with ritualised behaviour to solidify their affection, such as a persistent game of ‘Would you rather’, audio tapes and the repeated phrase of ‘Well there we are then’, followed by the response ‘There we both are’.
Hamblin’s writing creates a realistic relationship dynamic. The obnoxiousness of the character played by Hamblin herself is balanced out by Bishop’s character’s initial mellow attitude. An immediate investment and connection is formed towards the characters, with Hamblin and Bishop’s onstage chemistry being nothing short of explosive and incredible. This modern, complex romance makes generic love stories redundant, favouring instead a crude, unfiltered and accurate portrayal of love and the hardships that come with it. The nonchalant attitude towards the homosexual aspect of the play is so important to see, as it rightly normalises the presence of LGBTQ+ characters without needing to revolve the entire plot around it. I was overjoyed to see this.
Hamblin’s dark humour is irresistible. I was often, albeit unsuccessfully, trying to stifle laughter throughout amongst Harry Potter references, Keira Knightley impressions and quick-witted exchanges. However, it is the struggle and pain at the core of this play that is truly captivating. The harsh, clinical white light artistically separates our couple whilst denoting their individual performance spaces. Though Hamblin is given a little more than two square metres, she dominates it entirely, while Bishop similarly enhances the upsetting notion of the barriers between the two.
The set is dressed with a multitude of props scattered around the perimeter and a shelf of tapes upstage. This negative space in between further highlights the emptiness both characters feel and the sense of longing derived from this separation. The sound design gave dramatic volume during intense transitions. This, along with audio tape voice overs providing fictitious tales and extracts from classic female novels, reflected Hamblin’s character’s mental state. Every technical and performative element combine harmoniously for a powerful delivery.
The Tristan Bates continuously delivers interesting and well executed theatre, and this piece certainly does not fall short of the mark. I insist you see this intricate, well paced and energetic play if you have the chance. It is not only an incredible story but an objection to conventional theatre. This play is refreshingly modern yet timelessly powerful.
Author: Charlotte Hamblin
Director: Charlie Parham
Producers: Emma Hall & Jo Nash
Box Office: 020 3841 6611
Booking link: https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/for-those-who-cry-when-they-hear-the-foxes-scream
Booking Until: 2 July 2016