Review: Different Buttons, by Joanna Carrick, Red Rose Chain, St Clement’s Hospital, Ipswich, until June 2

THIS is an extraordinary look at an extraordinary part of the town’s history.

Presented as part of the St Clement’s History Project, it’s inspired by oral research and original source material; making for an intense and visceral piece.

Ruth Taylor {Rachel Clarke) waits for the doctors to assess her mental health. In that moment, the ghosts of former inhabitants through the hospital’s 142-year history appear to her.

Like Ruth, each has their own dark tale to tell; punctuated perfectly by moments of laugh out loud lightness.

Sporadically slipping into the skins of several characters throughout, Clarke, Jimmy Grimes as Bobby Flynn, David Newborn as Herbert Brett, Lauryn Redding as Nora Little and Christopher Ashman as Zacharia Elliot were captivating.

Their physical reactions to each other, their environment, their situation were perfectly pitched and added to the powderkeg of emotions.

Simple staging and performing it in the hospital itself is a master stroke, you can feel the history emanating from its foundations, adding weight to the words.

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With minimal costume changes you do have to pay attention but the only, minor, complaint I have is the ending seems very abrupt.

If you only see a few shows this year, make sure you see this.

WAYNE SAVAGE

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