Thursday, 10 September 2015

'People, Places and Things' National Theatre, Dorfman ****

Addiction can be colossally hard to admit to anyone, but when the person has predicaments with owning it up to themselves, then this can cause problems for their own wellbeing. The National Theatre’s production of Duncan Macmillan’s newest play, ‘People, Places and Things’ suggests the fears of admitting an addiction and how to overcome these worries in a consideration fashion, also the characterisations were well developed.

‘People, Places and Things’ is set mainly in a rehabilitation centre where we are familiarised with theatre actress, Emma who is at present performing in a production of, ‘The Seagull’ where Emma is struggling to come to terms with separating personal and professional life. To solve her issues she resorts to taking and consuming a whole heap of substances that are not good for her. However, she realises that if she repeats this lifestyle choice she will end up dead and she then decides to admit herself to a rehab centre where she is immediately confronted with Paul (Kevin McMongale) who yells incessantly about the state of the country, in addition he repeatedly relapses as the process is not working for him. Emma, who also uses many stage names, struggles to have common ground with the Doctor and her assistant, Foster (Alistair Cope) as they are both endeavouring to help Emma confess about her addiction.  To progress on her road to recovery, Emma must talk about her addiction to a group of fellow addicts; these include Mark, Meridith (Sally George), T (Jacob James Beswick), Jodi (Jacqui Dubois), Shaun (Nari Blair-Mangat) and Laura (Laura Woodward), furthermore they have to do some role play to identify how their addictions could have stemmed from.  Paradoxically, Emma does not participate in any of the group’s activities whatsoever, which means she is hardly aiding in her own recovery, as well as, the group state that everyone in the group needs to participate in order for the entire group to recuperate their own unique problems. Over the course of the performance, we learn that Emma’s brother died at a young age which lead to her becoming reliant on drugs. She checks out of the centre but she checks herself back in again where Mark now works as Foster has committed suicide.  On the other hand, this time she is ready to fully contribute to the group’s activities and the changes are remarkable and she fully recovers from her drug addiction and graduates from rehab. At the finale, she is back home living with her parents and when she tries to apologise they are far from ready to apologise from what she has put them through.  Macmillan’s narrative is stimulating as we are observing the teething troubles of people fighting their compulsions in a very thoughtful manner and the attention to detail with the relationship between Emma and the Doctor was intriguing to witness.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘People, Places and Things’ to be superbly portrayed. Denise Gough is excellent as addict thespian, Emma; especially as she is going on a real journey of improvement for her health and sanity, moreover, her naivety and diva attitude shows how much she needs to learn about herself and it seems that her method acting technique has impacted on her life in leaps and bounds.  Barbra Marten is fantastic as Doctor, Therapist and Mum; particularly as Doctor where she guides Emma on her responsibilities as a person and she shows that her work is tremendously challenging at times i.e. Paul’s outbursts and that you have to have a rock hard persona.  Nathaniel Martello-White is great as fellow recovering addict, Mark; expressly when he confronts Emma that her behaviour in the group’s discussions is childish and unhelpful for the success of other people’s reclamations, yet he does this in a less aggressive tone as he understands the difficulties of explaining addiction to strangers. 

Jeremey Herrin’s direction is transcendent here as he has capture the tense topic with grand vigour and tenacity as we can observe the tasks that are undertaken in rehabilitation centres, additionally, why Emma has difficulties in speaking confidently about her illness. As such; this evidences comprehensive characterisations. Bunny Christie’s design is remarkable as I was instantaneously absorbed into the rehab atmosphere and it works wonders in the Dorfman space and the shattered tiled video projections by Andrzej Goulding was exceedingly creative and integral to Emma’s whirlwind addiction. Overall, the experience of, ‘People, Places and Things’ was a vastly interesting and educational one indeed.   

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