By Hildy Harland
A beautifully touching, strong piece of theatre, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a window into another culture, destroyed and rebuilt with an oppressive and extremist regime leaving women vulnerable and desperate! The play covers a plethora of uncomfortable and difficult subjects, domestic abuse, extreme religious laws, death and miscarriage however within this there are light hearted moments too which for me give the show a realness rather than just playing on the drama of the setting.
The more relatable parts of everyday life and the extreme situations the main female characters found themselves in due to war and extremism are wonderfully fused together which for me is what makes this a powerful piece of theatre. It draws the audience in with relatable foundation whilst showing us an extreme truth which is shocking in both cases evokes emotion and draws the audience closer.
Credit to Pamela Raith
We see our main character Laila develop from a bright young girl into a surpressed woman stuck in a loveless marriage to Rasheed alongside the long suffering Mariam. It was really interesting to watch their relationships grow and change with such a subtlety that you almost don’t realise it is happening. For me the most unsettling part of this story is the manipulation of a vulnerable girl and the genuine misogynistic beliefs that the girls and women of Afghanistan face everyday, as if the war wasn’t enough for them to endure.
This piece of theatre seems so relevant right now! Although we don’t hear too much about Afghanistan on the news anymore it is a stark reminder of how lucky we are here in the UK. In this time of prejudice against migrants and refugees, this piece will be a great education to some on just what people face in these war torn countries and why they leave for the chance to live a better life.
Credit to Pamela Raith
I would definitely recommend going to see A Thousand Splendid Suns, it was a really human piece of theatre and brought home and affirmed why as a world we need to be more empathetic and care more about our fellow humans. So don’t forget your tissues, it will be an emotional ride, and take some change for the charity collection at the end of the show.
Credit to Pamela Raith
A Thousand Splendid Suns has a wonderfully long run at Northern stage from 30th May- 15th June. if you would like to see it for yourself you can book your tickets or find out more about the show on Northern Stage’s website HERE.
By Hildy Harland.
I do very few theatre reviews which don’t involve dance in some way, shape or form however, when I was invited to review The Lovely Bones at Northern Stage I could not resist. There has been a great deal of hype on the scene about the arrival of this collaborative play at Northern stage which has joined forces with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Royal & Derngate, Northampton co-production and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse to bring this disturbing, funny, heart wrenching and heart warming show to the stage.
Unlike many of the other audience members I had never read the book or even seen the film which is surprising as the film stars Saoirse Ronan one of my favourite actors of the past few years. I have been trying my hardest not to encounter any spoilers. I love to see new theatre as new rather than tainted by things I have seen, heard or read in the past. Usually a very hard thing to do most of the time but this was one of the rare occasions I succeeded almost completely. So needless to say I was really excited to see the show and experience it exactly for what it was.
I will try to give away as few spoilers as possible but I would like to warn fellow theatre goers of the startling opening to the performance as I did very nearly shower my theatre neighbours with pepsi max when a loud blast of audio and flash of light caused me to jump out of my skin! The play begins with us meeting our main character Susie Salmon played by Charlotte Beaumont. She has been murdered, throughout the play we journey with her as she tries to evade heaven and remain with her living friends and family. There is also the matter of her unsolved murder and how she can get justice for her death.
The main thing I took from the show was how uniquely it looked on such a savage and horrific death of a teenager. The news in the world is constantly filled with the rape and murder of young people, in particular young women abused and murdered by older men. This play brings us the side of the murdered and abused young woman who is so much more than what befell her. She is strong, capable, funny, loveable and even hopeful that things can still some how work out well in some way.
Her character is brought to life from the confines of her own personal “heaven” which at times is not as heavenly as you might think. The story is set in the early 1970’s through to 80’s so you can expect some great music to accompany this drama with a twist of deep meaning, philosophy and a touch of humour. I really feel like the feeling of youth shone through in this production not only through the way the material was created but through the performances of the younger actors, it really brought a fresh tone to this kind of drama. There were lot’s of very strong performances particularly Susie, her father Jack Salmon played by Jack Sandle and MR Harvey Susie’s murderer played by Keith Dunphy, I also enjoyed Ayoola Smart as Lindsey Salmon (Susie’s Sister). Not to say that the rest of the cast weren’t great too although I did get a couple of little accent cringes now and again but I think when a British cast are doing an American play that is always bound to happen.
The piece is really creative with it’s doubling up on characters use of puppetry and even actors playing animals at some points. I really think this story of such a sensitive nature was told to perfection with some really strong thought put into how they could do such a story justice and inject humour and that feeling of youth without being dis-respectful to the sensitive themes explored within the storyline. The whole cast and creative team truly have succeeded with “The Lovely Bones” and I would recommend you go and see it! It’s running from 9th-20th October at Northern Stage then moves on to Birmingham Repertory Theatre and New Wolsey Theatre.