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Review: Living With Luke, by Paul T Davies, StageWrite, Harwich & Dovercourt High School

PUBLISHED: 17:22 08 December 2014 | UPDATED: 17:22 08 December 2014

Living With Luke by Paul T Davies with Steve Hannam and Ben Maytham

Living With Luke by Paul T Davies with Steve Hannam and Ben Maytham

Archant

On the surface the concept doesn't sound that appealing. A story of a father battling to communicate with his son who is suffering with autism and it's presented as a series of bouts in a wrestling ring.

Living With Luke by Paul T Davies with Steve Hannam and Ben MaythamLiving With Luke by Paul T Davies with Steve Hannam and Ben Maytham

What appears obtuse when talked about in the abstract comes sharply into focus when you see it performed. Writer-director Paul T Davies has created one of the most visceral, in-your-face, funny, emotionally-affecting plays I have seen for years.

Living With Luke has been fashioned out of the blogs written by lead actor Steve Hannam who just happens to be a wrestler in real life aka Danson Thunderbolt.

The play is presented in chapters dealing with various key events during Luke Hannam’s young life. The wrestling ring is their world.

Steve Hannam plays himself – Danson Thunderbolt. He is locked into a lifelong battle with his arch enemy autism played by fellow professional wrestler Paul Tyrrell. Luke is sensitively and realistically played by Ben Maytham. Tyrrell aggressive wrestler is Luke’s constant shadow, blocking his father from reaching and communicating with his son.

It’s a powerful performance with the referee Shane Whitworth not only keeping order in the ring but encouraging the audience to cheer Steve and boo the autistic shadow.

The wrestling is loud and aggressive with some positively gruesome moves on display but the dialogue in between – beautifully written by Paul and sensitively delivered by the actors, is both blackly funny and very moving.

Every day is a battle and it makes you realise just what some people have to go through just to get through the day and to make a connection with the ones they love.

An additional performance has been scheduled at The Princes Theatre Clacton, May 9 at 2.30pm and 8pm. Box Office: 01255 686633

Hopefully future funding will allow this thoughtful and heartwarming play a larger audience.

Andrew Clarke

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