Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Snowangels @ The King's Arms, Salford, 16.08.14

Snowangels, the latest play from Fresh Loaf Productions, is a two hander from writer Joe McKie that, rather like an English summer, swings from sunny spells to stormy skies in a very short space of time. We follow the lives of Daniel (Charlie Ryan) and Mia (Keeley Fitzgerald), childhood friends who’ve become a couple and are now dealing with the difficulties of adulthood. Old emotions from youth like jealousy, guilt and shame keep coming back, making it hard to move on and grow up. These forces take a heavy toll on their relationship as well as their individual well-being, drawing them into very dark places.

The script has many good lines and details, as when Daniel jokes in iambic pentameter or when Mia tenderly wraps a pain au chocolat up in a tissue like an infant in swaddling clothes. The dialogue, both between Daniel and Mia and also with the other unseen characters whom they address, feels authentic. However, the text was slightly heavy with similes, which had the effect of diluting the strength of the best ones. The storyline could also do with an edit, as the concept of time-travel (which both claim to experience) seemed unnecessary; the narrative works without it. Overall though this is a script with promise, a rough gem waiting to be cut and cleaned rather than a plain pebble that can be polished no further.

As to the acting, Ryan was charming and cruel as Daniel, doing justice to both sides of the character. However, it was Fitzgerald who was the revelation here. Portraying pain, need and suffering without playing too big, her performance left many in the audience wiping tears from their eyes. Her trembling hands, shaking shoulders and tear-streaked cheeks offered realism to the point of discomfort. This performance, brought out by the partnership of Fitzgerald and directors Joe Mellor & Ollie Kerswell, was exceptional.

As with previous Fresh Loaf productions this is an achievement beyond the norm, showing a sensitivity to difficult issues that belies the young age of the writer, performers and directors. The script could do with some tightening, and perhaps the level of abuse and pain portrayed was not quite explained by the character’s earlier development, but on the whole Snowangels is a promising play, difficult to watch but worth sticking with.

Words: Andrew Anderson

Image: Courtesy of Fresh Loaf Productions

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