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Saturday, 9 September 2017

REVIEW: A Song for Ella Grey at Newcastle Northern Stage


Don’t Look Back…!

A Song for Ella Grey
Newcastle Northern Stage
Until Saturday 16th September 2017

Writer: David Almond
Director: Lorne Campbell
Set & Costume Designer: Jen McGinley
Sound Designer & Composer: Mariam Rezaei
Movement Director: Martin Hylton
Film & AV: Kris Deedigan
Lighting Design: Sam Vivash
 

 Photo: Pamela Raith

 Photo: Pamela Raith
North East writer David Almond has taken the tale of Orpheus and moved it to his native North East. His well written narrative is a study of teenage grief and surviving painful tragedy. Amy Cameron’s performance as Claire was exquisite.
 

 Photo: Pamela Raith

 Photo: Pamela Raith
A Song For Ella Grey examines teen friendships. At that age emotions can be much rawer and the need for peers can be acute. During the course of the drama a group of school friends explore the Ouseburn and head of to Bamburgh beach in Northumberland to party. David Almond’s tale keeps returning to the themes of relationships. Director Lorne Campbell has ensured the tale has a good pace through the production.
 

 Photo: Pamela Raith

 Photo: Pamela Raith
The bulk of the set consists of boxes and stones however strong descriptive effect of the monologue ensures we know what it represents. Amy Cameron has a magical power to allow you to join her in the imagination of Claire as she creates the events.


 Photo: Pamela Raith


The local nature of the narrative is accompanied by a video wall. Kris Deedigan has created a montage of both the locations and the young people which follows the action on stage. Using a young cast of 33 we have scenes in the classroom and outside on their travels. The collage of faces, some occasions moving, was a really powerful addition to the
soliloquy the Amy Cameron was performing.


 Photo: Pamela Raith


The Orpheus elements of the story means that Claire needs to go searching for her friend in the Underworld. This involves putting the whole venue in the dark. At this point you become acutely aware of Mariam Rezaei’s sound design as it guides you for nearly 20 minutes. Now we are not massive fans of gimmicks. Not for us the wearing of 3D glasses or headsets in the theatre but this assault on our senses did have an impact. The length of time that we were in the dark is perhaps a matter of personal issue.

Amy Cameron’s performance really holds your attention. It feels intimate & personal as she describes this episode in her life. Videos aside, it is effectively a one-person show and the poetic nature of much of script is at times almost hypnotic. A Song For Ella Grey is a compelling start to the new season at Northern Stage.

Review by Stephen Oliver

Tickets:
A Song for Ella Grey opens in Newcastle in September 2017. Tickets start from £10 - for more information or to book tickets visit www.northernstage.co.uk  or call 0191 230 5151.

Running time: 1 hour 30 mins (no interval)
Recommended Age: 14+ (some strong language)
Post-show talk: Wednesday 13 September with David Almond and Lorne Campbell

Please note: a section of this play will be performed in complete darkness.




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