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To Anyone Who Listens at the Hen and Chickens Theatre

To Anyone Who Listens
To Anyone Who Listens

Communication is key. David Coverdale has written a play that many can relate to. To Anyone Who Listens is based on a family struggling to move past the infidelity of husband, Geoff, but focuses on the effect it has on their son, Joshua. The play focuses on mental health and sectioning and based over five years, we see the family fight and feud. Joshua, who can’t handle the intensity, finds alleviation in speaking to a plant pot after being taken to a hospital. Meanwhile, the rest of the family still fail to communicate properly with each other.

What started as a monologue in early 2017, eighteen months later, has now grown into a fully-realised piece that definitely tries to say something.

The cast consists of four; Andrea Hall (playing Linda, the mother), Peter McNeil O’Connor (Geoff), Indigo Griffiths (older sister, Susie) and Josh Sissons as Joshua.

Hall and McNeil O’Connor have good chemistry and they are at their best when together, teetering on a civil conversation before emotions get the better of both of them. Griffith’s portrayal of Susie is able to give some comic relief to intense situations as the character is clearly not as mature as she thinks she is.

Though Sissons’ performance is the highlight of the show as Joshua. He rarely acts alongside the rest of the family and tells his story through a series of monologues in his isolated room. His frustration, hurt and search for clarity tugs at the heartstrings just as powerfully as the West End show, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’.

This is Coverdale’s first play and he has based a lot of its premise on personal experiences. The writing is at its strongest during Joshua’s monologues while the dialogue between the family members can sometimes be frustrating and repetitive. The humour seems to be more forced than the drama in order to break up the tension.

The direction is minimal and as the show jumps time frames almost every scene, more clear and predominant lighting could help, as the first half is slightly more confusing until the audience realise how the stage is set. Though, for a first performance, this show is in very good shape.

Coverdale’s play is a strong first attempt and can possibly expand past the Camden Fringe – plot-wise, it offers much more to chew on than similar productions. Coverdale said in an interview about the show that if he wanted audiences to take one thing from the show it was ‘Talk to each other. There are few problems that cannot be more manageable by talking’. I feel, after seeing this, that’s exactly what they’ll take away.

3 Star Review

Review by Tomm Ingram

What kind of a family are we if we’re relieved that it’s come to this?
Featuring a ‘magnificently physical performance’ from Josh Sissons and a script ‘bursting with emotional clarity, and not a little northern humour’ To Anyone Who Listens is a heartfelt and often amusing portrait of a family pushed to the limit.

In a time when mental health is finally at the forefront of public awareness, this piece centres around the family on the other side of the door when sectioning is the only remaining option. When facing their darkest hour, a family begin to communicate in a way they never have before.

Following a highly commended appearance at the 2017 Stockwell Playhouse Annual One Act Festival, David Coverdale’s debut play comes to the 2018 Camden Fringe Festival with direction by Atri Banerjee (fresh from Manchester Royal Exchange where he worked as Assistant Director on Happy Days starring Maxine Peake), design by Natalie Johnson (2017 recipient of the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Prize for Stage Design) and lighting by Ali Hunter (Katzenmusik at the Royal Court, Moments/Empty Beds double-bill for Pennyworth Productions).

Playing at the Hen and Chickens Theatre on Friday 17th (9pm), Saturday 18th (4:30pm) and Sunday 19th August 2018 (3pm).

Produced by Julia Cranney and David Coverdale, with support from Offie Nominated Pennyworth Productions.

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