Pros: This production has potential with some great scenes and excellent performances.
Cons: Dodgy direction and lots of awkward moments.
Great Yarmouth voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU – a huge 71% of its inhabitants voted to leave. Imaginationship, directed by Tricia Thorns and premiering at Finborough Theatre, is set in the seaside Norfolk town and tackles the effects of immigration and imbalanced relationships – or tries to.
Parts of the production work well. Much of the acting is very good. After a slightly awkward entrance, Patience Tomlinson plays sex obsessed Brenda Joy with humour and wit (although I have to say her costume choice is bizarre). However, Joanna Bending is certainly the star of the show. Her performance as Brenda Joy’s shy and somewhat angry daughter, Melody, is outstanding – she gets the balance between humour and vulnerability spot on. I also like the set. The lights allow for practical scene changes, from the disco lights of the Great Yarmouth Ballroom, to the passing cars on the side of the motorway.
Some relationships are believable, particularly between Melody and Tony, played by Rupert Wickham – he is so odious and she so desperate for attention – they work very well on stage together. Some relationships are not so believable. The love interest between Ginnie (Jilly Bond) and Brenda Joy seems forced and misplaced.
What really lets this production down is the direction. There are too many awkward scene changes, and too many elongated silences. As a result, the whole play feels disjointed and slightly uncomfortable to watch. There is a particularly bad mass shooting scene towards the end, which is so woefully executed I could feel myself cringing in my seat.
This production has potential. The subject matter is interesting and very relevant. The chasm between societies that the Brexit vote exposed; the comfortable, Guardian readership bubble of London versus the uncomfortable reality of marginalised Brexit towns. But Imaginationship seems to miss the point. The complexities of immigration are barely touched upon. I left Finborough Theatre feeling unusually disappointed.
Playwright: Sue Healy
Director: Tricia Thorns
Producer: Two’s Company in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre
Booking link: https://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions/2018/imaginationship.php
Booking until: 23rd January 2018