Review: Contained: True Stories from the Heart, Mind the Gap Productions, New Wolsey Theatre, February 9
13:29 12 February 2016
England’s largest professional learning disabled theatre company produce a show of honesty, tenderness, anger and sharply observed humanity.
When it comes down to it, we can’t choose who we are related to. It can go one way or another before we get around to having to… just get on with it. At its centre, the performers in Contained weave their stories in and out of each other but all meet, in the end, at home. Home is with parents, Grandparents , foster parents, each other and within themselves. For if one message rings out, literally, it is : “ This is me, I am here and I’m fine”
The stage is lit by the house lights for most of show. The process of theatre making is a concept laid bare here by the performers: they lift, they adjust microphones, move scenery, carry props, plug in amps and wind up cables. Real questions are being presented here about disability and public display. The very notion of “watching” is under scrutiny , and I have never seen a show where there ownership feels both an artistic and political statement.
The performers tell their stories; their real- life stories, straight into a microphone. Some are uplifting, some are funny and some are bloody heart breaking. There is a real life romance on stage and a very cool band of cast members. Jez Colbourne’s music underscores throughout and it heightens the honesty of the performances creating a compelling and engaging dynamic with the audience.
The style of this show is more live-art than well-made play and this is fitting; disability led theatre should be pushing all boundaries. This show knows it’s the small things that happen that tell the biggest truths. It also knows that at the end, the best theatre has you leaving slightly more human for the experience of it.