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Posts Tagged ‘Kathryn Joseph’

This is based on Emma Donoghue’s novel, which she adapted for the screen and now for the stage. Director Cora Bissett has added music by Kathryn Joseph and herself for this world premiere in Stratford East. I haven’t read the book, but I much admired the film and I think this is another very successful adaptation, more moving than the film, as you might expect from a live experience..

A girl is abducted and imprisoned for seven years by ‘Big Nick’. He keeps her in a very basic shed in his garden that she later calls Room. He visits to bring supplies, remove waste and rape her. She gives birth to Jack in Room, where she brings him up for five years. They establish a routine involving reading, exercise and imagination and Jack is happy in the only place he knows. He thinks World is something that only exists in the TV set. His mother wants them to escape and hatches a plot where Jack feigns death, is wrapped in a carpet and taken away by Big Nick in the back of his pick-up, from which he escapes when its stationary. It works and his mother is subsequently rescued.

In the second half we have a whirlwind of police questioning and medical examination until they go home to her adopted parents, now separated, where they are confronted with difficulties adjusting and settling in World, from Jack’s inability to climb stairs to her dad’s rejection of him. What was hopeless in Room becomes hopeful. There have of course been many cases like this, which itself may be based on a true story, but this manages to successfully convey both captivity and post-captivity trauma. The idea to have an older Jack speaking his more complex thoughts whilst shadowing young Jack really works well.

Lily Arnold’s design, with great use of projections, is excellent and Cora Bissett’s staging both assured and sensitive. The music didn’t always work for me, but in the second half there were several excellent songs that fitted the story. A lot of its success is down to casting and the emotional weight of the play is beautifully handled by Whitney White as Ma. Fela Lufadeju is a brilliantly omnipresence, echoing and illustrating but never overwhelming or stealing Jack’s story. Harrison Wilding as Young Jack is simply extraordinary, in Room clinging to Ma and everything familiar, then in fear, awe and wonder in World.

 Time to hot-foot it east to Stratford.

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