Friday, 22 November 2019

THEATRE REVIEW: Caged - VideOdyssey, Liverpool.

Caged is currently being performed at Videodyssey in Toxteth, and this was my first visit to the venue, which I was impressed with as soon as I entered the building. Videodyssey is a purpose built centre mainly for screening and hosting classic films and events. 

Caged was produced by Kiefer Wes Williams, who is the Artistic Director of Grin Theatre, which will be celebrating their 10th anniversary later on next year. Grin Theatre is Liverpool’s longest running LGBT+ theatre company, which is a fantastic platform for locating and developing local talent from Liverpool. I have seen several plays develop from their initial scratch night into full length plays, and the company are going from strength to strength, every year.

Will Cooper was the writer and director of Caged, who has shown versatility doing both jobs for the play. His direction was well managed and was clearly demonstrated in the play. Additionally, he has done well bringing Caged to life on the stage. The writing of Caged was realistically written from the perspective of teenagers, with their dialogue and mannerisms accurately spoken and acted.

Michelle Parker was The Assistant Director in Caged, who has helped and assisted Cooper, wherever possible in the production. Henry Zirpolo was the producer, whilst Simon James did all the marketing, art and photography. They all have done a fantastic job working together and getting the show on to the stage.

The cast consisted of Jenny (Pam Ashton), Josh (Ollie Corrigan), Lucy (Holly Murphy) and Tom (James Jarman). Having such a small cast in the play really allowed the story to be fully developed and the characters explored. The chemistry and dynamics between all four actors was great. I noticed a great sense of support and rapport for each other in the cast. The acting was good, particularly well done to the young adults playing the teenagers. I thought their portrayals of the teenagers was accurately portrayed with their behaviour and mannerisms.

The narractive of Caged centred around Josh and his relationships with his mother, Jenny, best friend Lucy and boyfriend, Tom. Josh was yearning to see his father, Steve, who was currently serving time in prison. Josh and Jenny were in a psychological prison themselves, as they felt trapped and wanted to escape, but were unable to. Lucy, Josh’s best friend, was in love with him, but he was totally unaware of this. However, they have both dabbled with each other in the past, but Josh has feelings elsewhere for someone else. Enter bi-curious, Tom, who Josh embarked on his first romance with. This inevitably caused conflict and friction between friends, Josh and Lucy.

Jenny was totally unaware of Josh’s situation of being gay. She was under the illusion that Josh was seeing Lucy. Amongst all this drama, there was a deep, dark family secret, which was slowly being built up throughout the show. The narractive of the story flowed really well together at a good, steady pace too for the audience.

The running theme of Caged was relationships and how best to deal with them, when placed in awkward situations and looking for a resolution. There were adult themes covered such as suicide and self harm, which were dealt with in a sensitive manner.

The set design by Michelle Parker and Liana Jane Bourne was extremely effective with it’s minimal props on the stage. The costumes were good, with attention to detail with Josh having a school badge on his blazer.

On a final note, I really enjoyed the play from start to finish, a good, solid story was told and acted incredibly well. The show had everything that you would expect in a drama; there was friction, emotion, conflict, insecurities, some comedy and a few delicate issues handled sensitivly. I particularly like the monologues, as this gave the actors, their moment to shine and let the audience have an insight into their characters' minds. I highly recommend you go and see this new play.

Reviewer - Mark Cooper
on - 21/11/19

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