When stepping foot in the Park Theatre you’re immediately immersed in the full experience; the rustic interior, signature theatre name in lights and the wonderful floating books on the ceiling. This venue could not have been more perfect to host the intimate Never Not Once and the journey it takes you on.
From the get go we are introduced to Eleanor, played by Meaghan Martin, and her loveable mothers Allison (Flora Montgomery) and Nadine (Amanda Bright), still as in love as ever after 20 years. After a few pleasantries and the introduction of Eleanor’s new love interest Rob (Gilbert Kyem Jnr), she admits she is on the hunt to find her biological father. On the surface, this adorable family dynamic is picture perfect. Nadine’s relationship with Eleanor is beautifully portrayed by Bright. Her pure and unconditional love is clear as she describes the story of taking on a motherly role when Eleanor was a baby; this is both moving and painful due to the challenges Nadine faced. However the story gets darker, revealing the true reason Allison hid Eleanor’s father’s true identity.
Redemption, forgiveness and acceptance seem to be recurring themes throughout. Carey Crim’s writing represents this in both small big moments. This is also done with the addition of witty comedy, especially from Kyem Jnr. As Rob, he finds the perfect way to cut tension with hilarious and loveable ‘one-liners’ which set the audience at ease, as well as reminding them what a good man should be.
Martin and Montgomery’s performances are spine-tingling and uncomfortably brilliant. There’s a level of intimacy like no other. As their lives unravel on stage it almost feels intrusive hearing such personal details. Montgomery navigates this discomfort with class and care, leaving a teary eyed audience in her wake.
Director Katherine Farmer manages to tell a ‘bare-all’ story with no frills. Simplistic staging of the family’s living room, no big bold lighting choices and a simple score, all give way for this raw story. However moments sometimes fall into the melodrama category and resemble a soap opera more than a raw piece of theatre. Above all, this was an emotional story of love, what it means to be a woman and finding light in the darkest of times.
Written by: Carey Crim
Directed by: Katherine Farmer
Produced by: Paul O’Leary
Never Not Once plays at Park Theatre until 5 March. Further information and booking via the below link.