nick730 (nick730) wrote,

Theatre review: Well

So it was only the other day I was hoping to see an ex-Hollyoaks star on stage, and while Natalie Casey (who was in the show's original cast and left years ago) wasn't quite who I had in mind, she's absolutely fantastic in the latest show at Trafalgar Studio 2. Lisa Kron's Well is a bit of a surreal experience as it was written to be performed by Kron herself, with a cast of actors assisting her by acting out scenes from her life, as well as another actress playing her mother. Here Casey takes the playwright's part, and as such is the only person on stage not to break character.

The other main role goes to Sarah Miles as Ann Kron, her sickly mother. Ann has suffered all her life from an undiagnosed illness which may be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but which she herself simply puts down to "allergies." At some stage Lisa Kron also came down with the mystery illness but she got better - onstensibly the play is her exploration of why some people, like her mother, are sickly, and others, like herself, are "well." Bringing her mother onstage though quickly derails her carefully planned process. The supporting cast, (Thomas Morrison, Jason Rowe, Hannah Stokely and Zara Tempest-Walters) all dressed in hospital scrubs, intially act out scenes from Kron's life, but increasingly break character as they became uncomfortable with her taking advantage of her mother for her own ends. Miles is great as the dishevelled, lethargic but strong-willed Ann, also rebelling against Kron's carefully planned script, until she is forced to face her anger at her mother, whom she blames for her own illness.

Running in parallel is the story of how Ann, though unable to heal herself, healed a whole community through her determination to create a genuinely racially integrated neighbourhood. While it might sound heavy this is one of the funniest shows I've seen for ages, its origins as a vehicle for the playwright-performer sometimes giving it the feel of stand-up. The entire cast is spot-on with the comic timing and the nuances as they gradually break from character, but Casey really holds it together with a frantic performance as the author loses control of her own play. Very entertaining and hard to categorise.

Well by Lisa Kron is booking until the 27th of September at Trafalgar Studio 2.
Tags: theatre

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