THEATRE REVIEW: People, Places and Things ★★★★★
People, Places and Things
Bristol Old Vic
Thursday 26th October 2017
The National Theatre’s People, Places and Things comes to Bristol Old Vic on their UK tour after a critically acclaimed run last year in the West End. The play follows Emma, an actress who checks into rehab and meets a myriad of interesting characters along her tumultuous journey to recovery. Lisa Dwyer Hogg takes on the role of the main protagonist, in possibly one of the most emotionally-charged productions I have seen in a long while.
There’s so much I could say about this production that I thoroughly enjoyed, from the chemistry that the whole company showed on stage right through to the compelling storytelling from Duncan Macmillan. Originally set in traverse, this was further considered for the Old Vic, where within the first five minutes we see the grey backdrop fall to reveal the audience upstage of the action; it's really nice to see that what made the original production in London so unique and special has been incorporated into the tour of this production!
Lisa Dwyer Hogg was the real highlight to this production, and one that I loved watching; I completely believed her portrayal of Emma, and though I did not see Gough in the original cast, I was so mesmerised by Hogg’s performance that I could not imagine it being done by anyone else. Emma is a character who is haunted by her past alcohol abuse but is afraid to talk to her parents who have never given a care to her world, and one particular scene which occurs almost twice in the play is one of the most heartbreaking moments that really makes you feel for the character, and Hogg’s determination to get the emotion right in this situation makes her whole performance almost on par for Best performance from a female I've seen this year with Billie Piper's Yerma, and I very much look forward to see where Hogg’s career goes in the future.
Jeremy Herrin’s direction is so powerful and you can really see the determination making sure every detail is not overlooked; I loved the sequences that involved the multiple Emma's, with their entrances/exits particularly inspiring. To have this production in traverse could seem as a challenge, but as the group of patients weekly sit in a circle to discuss their issues, not only do we get to learn more about their backgrounds before coming to rehab, but the way it's blocked on stage makes you feel like as an audience member you are intruding on their privacy that they share with each other; at times it's an uncomfortable watch, but you simply can't take your eyes away as you're drawn into their stories.
Overall, People, Places and Things is compelling and emotional, making you leave the theatre with such a heavy heart as you become so drawn to the characters lives on stage; the ending in particular will have you screaming inside and making you want more!