Friday, October 26, 2018

Clear White Light -Review- Live Theatre

Clear White Light Live Theatre - World Premier 23rd October

Joe Caffrey and Bryony Corrigan (Live Theatre)
Clear white light is named after a Lindisfarne song and is a cross between a gig and a play. Music  is played by a live band, most of whom are also characters in the play. It’s set in an all male hospital ward, with patients having a variety of mental health difficulties. The main characters are Rod - a male staff nurse in his 50s played by Joe Caffrey, - and a student nurse Alison, played by Bryony Corrigan, who recently stared in Live’s My Romantic History.
Bryony’s ability to convey angst and horror are incredibly impressive and Joe brings a well rounded characterisation to Rod. They both feel very believable. I have personal experience of being a patient in a mental health ward and I can say so much of this play rings true. The Gothic and spooky elements don’t convince me as much as the emotional intelligence of the characters. I can relate to both the experience of the patients and the realism of the nurses. We always wondered if some of the nurses belonged as patients more than we did at times, and this comes across in parts here as there are various meltdowns.
This play was written by Paul Sirett and he has done an excellent job with it. Charlie Hardwick of Emmerdale fame played Maddie (not sure if this was a play on words or not). She also did the majority of the singing in the play, which was great. The remaining cast were also in the band and consisted of Phil Adele (Aaron patient), Alice Blundell (Jo nurse), Dale Jewitt (Charlie), Billy Mitchell (Barry patient / Lindisfarne) and Ray Laidlaw (percussion / Lindisfarne).
I found both the musical element and the play enjoyable, however I am not convinced both elements belong together. A lot of the time the songs seem to have little relevance to that particular part of the play. I found the play element to be the stronger of the two. My friend remarked it was Lindisfarne’s version of Mama Mia.
This play is based on a cross between Edgar Alan Poe’s short story the Fall of the House of Usher and Alan Hull’s music based on his own experience working for the NHS.
Alan Hull had worked in St Nick’s hospital in Gosforth, which at the time inspired many of his songs, many which are used in this play. It’s kind of like a love letter to the NHS and stands very proudly behind the now seventy year old institution, at the end it conveys a very unsubtle message about the NHS, but one that many agree with. I would definitely recommend this, especially if you are fans of Lindisfarne, and don’t worry Fog on the Tyne and Gazza are nowhere in sight.
A solid 7/10.   

Clear White Light it is running at Live until November 10.

Frank Cromartie Murphy

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