Pros: A difficult subject written and performed with incredible commitment and compassion.
Cons: Some audiences may find the tragic themes uncomfortable to listen to.
Arcola Theatre presents Jane Upton’s incredible and brave new writing in this clever and delicately performed production. Here we encounter the dark and tragic childhoods of three girls: Joanne, Lisa and Amy. Joanne invites Lisa to a gathering for Lisa’s birthday, and throughout the evening Joanne and Lisa struggle with past fears and ties that could see them both in a very scary situation.
Jane Upton has stated that her work was inspired by Safe and Sound, an incredible charity that aims to keep children and young people safe from sexual exploitation. Having heard a story about an 18 year old girl caught in this tragic situation and working alongside Safe and Sound, All The Little Lights became the emotional play you can now see at Arcola Theatre.
Having never been to the Arcola Theatre before but having heard so many great things, I was not disappointed. This quirky and vibrant theatre gave a warm welcome, provided an exciting pre-show buzz and comfortable atmosphere. Studio 2 performance space provided the perfect rustic vibes to partner with the set, lighting and costume created by Max Dorey, Alexandra Stafford and Max Pappenheim. This intricate set of a disgruntled area adjacent to a railway line was where the action took place. Evidently detailed and well partnered with the atmospheric lighting and sound design, this area gave the production the extra bit of life and body that really embellished the entire experience.
Jane Upton’s detailed writing was outstandingly performed by Tessie Orange-Turner (Joanne), Sarah Hoare (Lisa) and Esther-Grace Button (Amy). Their darkly humorous and turbulent relationships continued to grow and evolve throughout the evening. Moreover, it was amazing to see three incredibly talented and powerful women performing a story that feels just the opposite – disempowering. All three gave such a deep and empathetic performance, doing the writing and research behind the play absolute justice. Although difficult to listen to and watch at times due to its themes, these performers kept the audience engaged from the moment we entered the auditorium. Tessie’s strong and aggressive personality, partnered with Esther’s comic simplicity and Sophie’s uncomfortable body language, made for three very different characters engaging in one very real problem.
Arcola Theatre has done it again, by presenting new and testing theatre. This play explores brave themes and gives an insight into a horrifically real problem that many aren’t aware of. With similar themes being explored across different element of the arts, these girls’ stories are being told. Safe and Sound are an outstanding company that work with the families and victims of sexual exploitation in a bid to help them end these horrific situations that are still happening today.
Fifth Word, Nottingham Playhouse, Arcola Theatre and everyone involved in this production should be extremely proud of the work they have created and of a voice they are giving to those who can’t give it. A truly realistic and moving piece of theatre.
Author: Jane Upton
Director: Laura Ford
Producer: Corinne Salisbury
Booking Until: 4 November 2017
Box Office: 020 7503 1646
Booking Link: https://www.arcolatheatre.com/event/all-the-little-lights/