Six Characters In Search Of A Handout Going To Edinburgh Fringe

Hull-based Theatre on the Edge are taking their smash hit production to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016 after its success in Hull this month.

The production, written and directed by Barrie Wheatley, is a gutsy, well paced, utterly realistic story of the hot brick subject of the large increase in use of food banks in Britain in recent years.

However, despite the massively political subject, it isn’t used as a hammer to bash the government over the head about what has led to the explosion of new food banks opening, or what is driving people to use them, instead it explains why they are being used in such vast quantities more subtly and apportions no blame apart from real situations which we all know about.

The show has moved between three nights at Kardomah 94, one night at Holy Trinity Church and finally one performance at the Northern Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) and, all the while, has collected money and food to be given to the organisations who fight daily against food poverty to feed the needy that are being created every day.

After the last show at NAPA the cast said it had all been a great experience for them, this super talented cast of Sara Featherstone, Maxwell Smales, Stan Haywood, Jackie Rogers, Chris Gruca, Molly Robinson, Clare Crowther, Dave Bush, Kirsty Old, Jamie Wilks, Ella Straub and Katy Burgess, who have handled this controversial subject with absolute mastery, explained how they have pulled it off.

Katy Burgess who played the controversial character Katie said that, because of the nature of the character, playing her in the surrounds of Holy Trinity Church was very interesting for her, and Stan Haywood who played the intense but very well meaning Arnold explained they had to change some of the dialogue when they were in the church.

Maxwell Smales said walking down the aisle there “Felt very powerful” and Sara Featherstone said that “Being able to see all the audience in the church was very different.”

Another highlight for the whole cast is that audiences seem to have all really identified with the characters and Sara also exclaimed that Katy had told her “No matter how much we don’t like it, there’s a Katie in all of us somewhere.”

Doing a Q&A after each show also seems to have been something of a masterstroke which has generally been very well received by audiences and participants alike.

This show deserves great praise for its unflinching quality and guts, it is a piece of theatre that everybody can absolutely identify with on different levels and, although tragedy doesn’t put bums on seats, this reality production hits the cause of it squarely between the eyes without being too one sided.

Six Characters

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Six Characters In Search Of A Handout- Review

Theatre On The Edge have launched their latest production called Six Characters In Search Of A Handout at Kardomah 94.

This new black comedy is an outstanding piece of theatre with laughs, confrontation, guts and an unflinching genuine quality at its heart.

Dealing with a very hot subject that is very capable of blowing up if done wrongly, this production with a quality cast presents extremely well with six ‘Characters’ (real life people) asking six ‘actors’ (played by actors) to tell their real life stories of meeting at a food bank and how they ended up there.

The reality of the stories and the acting of them is hard to tell apart in a blissfully excellent way which moves the story along at a fantastic pace and also seems to explain some of the myths about the reputation of modern theatre in this day and age after careful cultivation over many centuries.

With a cast of 12 handling a really hot brick it would have been very easy for writer/director Barrie Wheatley to go down the political route and bash the Conservative government from pillar to the post due to the explosion of uses of food banks but it doesn’t.

It is also pleasantly noted that no one character dominates and the dynamic changes around as each character is explored in depth but for exactly the right amount of time to explain their personal story.

The cast of Molly Robinson, Maxwell Smales, Sara Featherstone, Dave Bush, Clare Crowther, Jamie Wilks, Kirsty Old, Ella Straub, Stan Haywood, Chris Gruca, Jackie Rogers and Katy Burgess are expertly pitched and perfectly suited to their parts.

The main strength comes from Arnold (Haywood) and Katie (Burgess) as the latter arrives last on the stage and gives a whole different dynamic with her ruthless treatment of the ‘Characters’ and is eventually taught a harsh lesson by the messed up but meaningful and charming older man.

With a political undercurrent which is perfectly handled by the wonderful cast who never allow it to takeover the proceedings this is very powerful storytelling at its finest with breathtaking control of a very difficult subject without creating a pervading scandal.

There is also an appeal to give to a collection for organisations that help to fight against food poverty with donations of Tinned food, Packets of food or money.

The production is on at Kardomah 94 on 5th and 6th November, Holy Trinity Church on 10th November and Northern Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) on Anlaby Road on 13th November tickets are £7 each at Kardomah 94, £5 each at Holy Trinity Church and £7/£5 at NAPA on the door at either venue.

Six Characters

The Tattershall Castle, Review

Local writer Catherine Derrick launched her latest production The Tattershall Castle at Kardomah 94 this evening.

The story mainly revolves around two sweethearts Jean Brown and James Palmer who are torn apart by the outbreak of World War 2 which causes the young man to go off and fight in the RAF.

The young couple stay in touch by sending letters but then disaster strikes as Jean’s house is bombed in the blitz and flattened, rendering Jean and her mum homeless which ultimately leads to them moving to stay with Jean’s nan in Pickering away from the bombing.

At the other end is James, love lorn and pining for Jean, upon seeing what’s left of her house when he returns on leave from Biggin Hill and the desperate fight in the sky James believes Jean has been killed in the blitz.

In the middle is James’ father, an unscrupulous, hard, wealthy man who believes Jean is nowhere near good enough for his son and heir apparent, who lies to both Jean, telling her he will pass on her new address to James so he can write to her, and James by confirming his worst fears saying Jean was killed by a bomb on Hessle Road.

You are immediately drawn in at the start as singer Carolyne Storey sings a wartime medley to set the tone as we are swept back to wartime Hull.

The early scenes with Jean, played by the thoroughly compelling Sarah Hicks, and James, played by the engaging Jack Holt, are well choreographed and get you hoping and wishing for the young couple.

Mrs Brown, played by Jackie Rogers, is another very likable character and the scene of the bombing when their house is hit is very well acted by both Hicks and Rogers as the desperation and panic of the blitz is brought to life with their actions, facial expressions and speech.

James’ father Mr Palmer, played by Anthony Musgrave, is a very well acted lowlife who clearly only cares about his bank balance and isn’t bothered whoever he upsets, including his own flesh and blood. He is so horrible that he draws boos from the audience when they see him on stage.

Jean’s brother Tommy, who is portrayed by David Dale, is another very believable character who clearly cares very deeply for his sister, his part is very well pitched so when he almost comes to blows with James later, believing James had dumped Jean for another woman, there is no question that his character would react like he does.

The barmaid from The Minerva, James’ favourite watering hole, is the character played by Lynda Harrison who gives the whole production a genuine element of fun as it moves into the 1960s.

The cast is completed by Chrissy, played by Catherine Rose Senior, she is Jean’s daughter and, in a beautifully subtle sideline, is the one who ultimately brings Jean and James back together after James’ father and Jean’s husband have died.

There is of course a twist at the end that you absolutely don’t see coming in a masterful piece of writing by the writer/director.

It is a very good production, well written, well acted and well directed.

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