Plastic Figurines by Ella Carmen Greenhill is a beautiful piece of theatre. Confident, compassionate, funny and tender, the play tells the story of a brother a sister trying to navigate their way through the death of their mother, their pull for independence and their need for each other.
Rose (Remmie Milner) and Michael (Jamie Samuel) are both extraordinary in their roles. Milner is the heartbroken, caring elder sister who has shelved her ambitions to care for her wilful brother who is ‘somewhere on the autistic spectrum’ but definitely ‘not thick’. Samuel brings such a genuine glee and determination to his performance, so that you really feel Michael’s frustration that the world isn’t a coherent place. And it’s very funny too – the subject matter could make you nervous that this is a mawkish sentimental stuff – but Adam Quayle’s direction is pacey and smart, and the dialogue is so real that the seventy five minutes fly by and yes, maybe there are a few moments where I might have had a little cry, but I laughed more, and never felt manipulated – just moved and involved.
Katie Scott’s set design is clinical but bold and flexible enough to support our belief that we are in varying locations throughout the play. I wasn’t sure about the structure of the play at first – but it all makes sense by the end, and completely justifies itself. And the lighting and sound are just gorgeous – bringing us to and from locations and never intruding, but supporting the storytelling perfectly.
Greenhill has written a very special play about death and life and family, about finding connections and trying to keep them. So – Spoiler Alert – All the loose ends aren’t wrapped up in a bow at the end with a sentimental saccharine conclusion. But that’s not to say that the play doesn’t feel finished – and it doesn’t mean that it isn’t uplifting. Like Michael, the play is perfect just the way it is.
Box of Tricks Theatre Company is a Manchester Based Company that ‘commission and develop bold and original new plays from the most exciting new voices, creating ambitious and heartfelt theatre.’ Plastic Figurines more than lives up to this blurb. This is a genuinely affecting, lovingly crafted piece of theatre.
Review by Roz Wyllie
Plastic Figurines by Ella Carmen Greenhill – Box of Tricks
New Diorama Theatre
15th to 18th April (& touring)
Rose loves her brother Mikey. Mikey loves Rose, Bruce Willis films and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but he hates change. When their mum is diagnosed with leukaemia, their world is plunged into chaos.
Inspired by events in the playwright’s own life, Plastic Figurines is a funny and moving new play that explores the relationship between siblings with very different views of the world.
Recently nominated for a Manchester Theatre Award, Box of Tricks is a theatre company committed to the next generation of new writing. Playwright Ella Carmen Greenhill is a former writer-on-attachment at Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and Paines Plough.
Thursday 16th April 2015