BWW Review: BREATHE, Lion And Unicorn Theatre
Just breathe. It's something I'm sure many of us have either told ourselves, or people that we love. But how easy is breathing when you feel like there is not enough oxygen? How do you find a time to relax when your stomach is constantly in pain and your head is always pounding?
Mental health affects one in four people in the UK, and a play like this has never been more necessary. Too often do we sweep these issues under the carpet, for fear of not knowing what to do or say. Lucrezia Pollice has created a production that never stigmatises. Instead it didactically reveals how the condition affects not just the individual suffering, but the loved ones around them.
Maria is a writer struggling with her wellbeing and creativity. Bedridden, she snorts cocaine to keep herself functioning and mopes around the house unsure of her life's purpose. Dressed in a onesie, the tiger print acts as a metaphor for a person who is searching for their voice, and their ability to roar again.
Zoe Templeman-Young plays the central character and it's a stroke of brilliant casting. She accurately conveys the inner suffering and incapability Maria feels, and is well supported by her fellow actors, Tamzin Murray, Peter Silva and Olivia Valler-Feltham.
There were parts throughout that didn't work: snap blackouts are used too frequently and some lengthy scene transitions are slightly uncomfortable to sit through. There is also too much of a reliance on multimedia, when instead the body should be utilised more in performance.
Technical issues hindered the overall impact; the projector was off-centre so some of the images were distorted, and video projections were played too soon. However these are matters that can easily be ironed out. The content is all there; it now just needs a rigorous edit and clearer focus.
At its core, and what should be commended is Lucrezia Pollice's determination in getting this play put on. Like Maria, Pollice has fought her way through many no's (both societal and personal), yet has still written, directed and produced a show that instils confidence in any emerging artist.
It's young work, and comes from a director recently out of drama school. However, it's exciting and fresh, and Pollice's enthusiasm for her art is contagious. It's an exciting first offering, and most certainly deserved of another run somewhere else.
Breathe at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 2 February
Photo credit: Lucrezia Pollice