Sunday, 15 November 2015

'Sparks' Old Red Lion Theatre ****

Siblings can either be vastly similar or absolutely opposite with regards to their interests, all the same what affects could transpire when a sibling just appears into their lives? The Old Red Lion Theatre’s production of Simon Longman’s newest play, ‘Sparks’ was an extraordinarily compelling two hander about troubling sisterly relationships, furthermore, the performances were amazingly portrayed.

‘Sparks’ is set in a town by the river in the Midlands where we’re introduced to sisters Sarah and Jess. Sarah the youngest is speechless that her older sister, Jess is standing outside of her front door soaking with only a rucksack and fish bowl with her. At first, Sarah is not really pleased by Jess’ presence as she disappeared twelve years ago which caused Sarah some trauma when she was a teenager, in addition to this, Jess appears to think that she can stay at her sister’s flat which is in the process of being redecorated. Jess begins to empty her rucksack that seems to be full of alcohol and she soon forms a pop-up pub to celebrate hers and Sarah’s reunion, on the other hand, does Jess realise what her disappearance due to her sister’s mood? Throughout the show, we learn that Jess has seen Sarah in town but found it increasingly challenging to talk to her as she didn’t know what to say to her as it had been such a long time since they last spoke. It is evident that both Sarah and Jess have such love for one another that time has stopped due to the fact that Jess ran away. Over the course of the performance, we are informed with what Jess has been doing for twelve years and that is that she has been moving up and down the country, on such place is that she stayed above a fish and chip shop near the sea where she worked in the shop downstairs to earn money.  It seems that Sarah is finding it hard to speak to Jess as she finds it to tough that her sister is back in her life after more than a decade and is not in the mood to drink with her sort of alcoholic sister, Jess.  The atmosphere softens as the two drinks together to try and resolve their issues, yet the next morning is upon the Midlands where Jess decides that she’ll leave her sister once again, but for her to care for her son, Sam (Flynn Dennison/Chi Thomas-Hockey). At the finale, as Jess is about to depart Sarah’s life again she still does not fathom how irresponsible she is and that leaving her son with his aunt is not precisely appropriate. Longman’s narrative is splendid as the story about two sisters who haven’t seen or spoken to each other for twelve years and how you can see what a sibling means to someone, what is more, this is realistic as having a sibling is vital to your life and the absence of one is painful.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Sparks’ to be staggeringly chivalric through intriguing moments of both humour and commanding elements. Sophie Steer is grand as the disappearing sister, Jess; expressly where she presumes that reappearing into her sister’s life after twelve years is okay and not taking responsibilities for her actions shows a real lack of maturity and her somewhat alcoholism is quite frightening.  Sally Hodgkiss is excellent as shy young sister, Sarah; mainly where her quite nature enables us to see what her life has become due to the fact that her sister abandoned her all those years ago, as well as, the moment where she confronts Jess depicts a really strong person behind the exterior. 

Clive Judd’s direction is wonderful here as he has created an awe-inspiring production that really captivates how a fraught sisterly relationship has framed how Jess and Sarah have become for more than a decade, plus, the characterisations were well developed at all times and this is tremendous. Jemima Robinson’s set and costume designs are scintillating as the ripped wallpaper of the children’s wallpaper to the adulthood  one allows us to see how destroyed Sarah is because of Jess and the poor conditions she is living in somewhat. Overall, the experience of, ‘Sparks’ was an beguiling and radiant selection for the Old Red Lion Theatre’s programme of work for this year and rather lovely too.

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