There are not enough non-musical plays available in theatres lately, and ‘Held’ is a clear example of why we need to change that. Wonderfully performed by Ged Mckenna (David), Alan Stocks (Simon) and Pauline Daniels (Mary), this play greatly surpassed expectations. This was the first play written by Joe Ward Munrow after taking part in the Young Writers programme and it is being performed at ‘The Playhouse’ in Liverpool until the 1st of December, 2012.
The play centres around Mary, an elderly mother of two sons, who is suffering from a type of dementia. We see her sitting in a chair of an elderly home with her sons visiting her. Suddenly, strobe lighting flashes and there is a quick chilling buzz that makes you feel uncomfortable. This buzzing seems to indicate a change of perspective from Mary’s mind: that is running through memories, to the sons’ perspectives: who are making the painful decision on their next steps. The sons each have their own character monologue, where we see their contrasts. Both are intricately and sub-textually described through the aspects of their speech. Simon talks of the vastness of science and how he ‘just doesn’t want to think about it’ while David talks about a new hob design where the water and pan get hot, but the hobs don’t. Both are drenched in beautiful metaphor that creates powerful messages. However, the writer should maybe think about making these more succinct as some speeches got to their climax half way through and the effect dwindles thereafter.
The actors did extremely well. It seemed at first that they were ill-casted: as Pauline Daniels could never look old enough to have mothered Stocks and Mckenna! However, as we learned more about the characters, the family unit began to slot together beautifully. Each character’s traits caused brilliant contrasts and the relationships were greatly strengthened as we learnt about the individuals and heard their thoughts and feelings. Daniels (Mary) switched from absent and disorientated, to child-like and happy, to stressed and angry in an instant and never missed a beat. One thing that came off as less effective was that Simon’s character seemed to be at a point of high drama for most of his speeches. It might have been a good effect to have a softer side seen: increasing the shock of his louder points. However, when emotion was required he was extremely effective. Mckenna also brought the spirit of his character alive and performed well.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with this piece. The stage and sounds, along with a part at the end where all actors were talking at the same time, were truly haunting. The character development and monologues were effective and use of pacing and perspective were used well. The acting was also astounding, and they interacted with the audience perfectly. I greatly encourage people to see ‘Held’ and to keep watch for more from this promising playwright.
To buy tickets: http://www.everymanplayhouse.com/