Pros: The actor makes worlds with nothing but a handful of props.
Catapult Theatre Company aims to propel their audience into unexplored territory, and is currently presenting Statements at The Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham; a narrative commentary on the world of Special Needs Education and the people who live and work in it.
Statements explores Asperger’s, Downs Syndrome, and misunderstood emotions through moments in the lives of three boys and their friends, and the professionals who work with them every day to help them navigate the world, and enhance the understanding of those who interact with them. Daniel is obsessed with jazz music, but the world is too loud for him to clearly hear what’s going on. Javeed doesn’t understand a word anyone says, but communicates by smiling. Toby makes a lot of noise, but nobody seems to listen.
Statements contains only minimal elements: a person, a space, some props. Yet given only the basics, and only one hour, and a world populated by many springs up before our eyes in the hands of Samuel Clayton, the lone actor on stage for 60 minutes.
Written for all the inspiring work done by teachers and education specialists – the world’s most important jobs are often the ones we see being lauded least – Clayton differentiates the characters using accent and clothing or items: hoody for Daniel; jacket for Senco; beanie for Daniel’s playground defender. There was never a moment in which I was confused as to who was currently ‘on,’ testament to the skill of Clayton’s one-man whirlwind. A single person on stage on a mostly bare stage is a poignant image, and very much in keeping with the issues the show tackles head on; we are confronted by the loneliness felt by the boys with Special Educational Needs.
Statements is about communication: the frustration felt by those who are constantly failing to be understood, or failing to understand the world around them. Nothing is so unhealthy as an absence of understanding. It leads to conflict, confusion, and ignorance. For those with little experience being with special needs children, young people or adults, the boys of Statements explain what it is that goes on in their minds, the core their struggles come from, and the work put in by the teachers and professionals educating them. A touching and skilful piece of theatre. Hats off to Mr Clayton.
Writer, Director, Producer: Samuel Clayton
Booking Link: https://www.breadandrosestheatre.co.uk/statements.html
Booking Until: 17 February 2018