Wishes on the Wind
Newcastle Live Theatre
Until Sunday 18 December 2022
Two playwrights that have been developed through Live Theatre's talent development present their plays, both of which has a festive feel. The combination of two stories worked well to give a view of this time of year that will be familiar to the intended adult audience. Great casting results in a warm feel, with the occasional laugh along the way.
First up was Alison Scurfield's Secret Santa, directed by Rachel Glover. A short play about Christmas Eve. Jackie Lye appears as Margaret, a mother who has apparently invited half of the village around before the Midnight Mass so such tries to encourage their stomachs are not grumbling through the service. As she rushes in with another batch of mince pies she tries to encourage her daughter Christie to give her a hand. Brogan Gilbert presents her offspring as a young lady with other things on her mind. After all her girlfriend is also expected to arrive and Christie is worried how she will react to having the local elderly WI milling around.
For such a short performance this was a remarkable spot. The mother who is rather quick to consume wine trying to bite off more than she can chew in terms of organisation is a situation that the audience may recognise. They will also remember the awkwardness of not being sure how your friends will react to a situation that your family springs upon them.
Brogan is a young and confident actor that we first reviewed back in 2016 (link) and it has been wonderful to see her continue to grow in to a versatile character actor. Jackie continues to be a versatile actor who can bring roles to life with a sense of humour.
The main event is Wishes On The Wind - an hour long play about a couple of schoolmates living in a Northumberland who meet up on a number of successive New Year's Eves in which it is traditional to go to the village hall for a disco/ceilidh. Sam (Caitlyn Barber) is a social media influencer who catches the train North in order to attend the event. Upon arrival at home she quickly discovers all is not well as her mother has a recent diagnosis of Alzheimer's and hence she did not remember to pick her up from the station.
Threaded through the story is Charlie (Luke Hammond) who is utterly bored with his office job. He has run out of options on a dating website as he lives in a more sparsely occupied area.
Benjamin Storey's tale has the pair giving the audience a snapshot of their story before their paths cross. Sometimes when chopping and changing a story can lose pace but director Graeme Thompson keeps both characters on stage and orbiting each other until they meet. This keeps up the momentum, and interest, in them both.
Once their paths cross the story keeps up pace by quickly moving over each new year - once we know the village's routine there is no need to keep repeating it. The two actors are succesful in convincing that the are the characters that they are portraying. Caitlyn comes across as an influencer, Luke is the ;ad who never left their place of birth. That authenticity allows you to want to know what happens. Chuck in music and a sense of humour and the audience are in for an engaging ride.
In a season full of shows aimed at children and families it is pleasing to see Live Theatre offer something seasonal and more grown up. The result is a rewarding night at the theatre.
Creatives - Wishes on the Wind:
Script and music Benjamin Storey
Director Graeme Thompson
Designer Aileen Kelly
Lighting Designer Drummond Orr
Sound Designer Dave Flynn
Costumes Lou Duffy
Stage Manager Craig Davidson
Deputy Stage Manager Gabi Oliver
Production Technician Taylor Howie
Starring Caitlyn Barber and Luke Hammond
Creatives - Secret Santa
Written by Alison Scurfield
Starring Jackie Lye and Brogan Gilbert
Review: Stephen Oliver
Photos: Von Fox
£10 - £15, concs from £6 - Box Office: https://www.live.org.uk/whats-on/wishes-on-wind
Approx 1hr 15 mins
Age rating: 14+