Hosted at ‘Theatre N16’ located above the Bedford pub, Yours Ever Loving is performed before The Frights; a poignant and political duo assembled by the Newcastle based Alphabetti Theatre Company. Martin McNamara’s Yours Ever Loving explores the trials and tribulations of wrongly imprisoned 1974 Guildford bomber Paul Hill, incarcerated through the political conflicts between Britain and Ireland and only released in 1989. The piece is a whistle-stop tour through the 1970s and 80s with James Elmes embodying the domineering authority as Margaret Thatcher, a Judge, a Kubrick-esque yob, brutish policeman, Roy Jenkins, Jimmy Saville and a vicar, all with a startlingly electric delivery. It charts Hill’s fifteen year prison stint informed through the letters he wrote to his mother during his time away, intersected with radio broadcasts, news updates and popular hits humorously relayed by Elmes. Stefan McCusker’s portrayal of Hill is remarkably human, capturing issues of mental health, repression and the futility of objecting when within a corrupt and horrifically abusive system.
Yours Ever Loving – Photo: Andreas Lambis
The audience is then physically blindfolded as Louise Taylor’s The Frights begins. This is a riveting play that charts the readmission of charity worker Hanny (Christina Berriman Dawson) into mundane life following her enslavement by elusive foreign forces. The inconsistency of Hanny’s account of her experience flags up fears of deception as she is united with adoring partner Luke (James Hedley), who pines after the memory of the former Hanny and is obsessively protective. The effect of the performance being obscured through fabric neatly lends to the atmosphere of obscurity, with jarring flashes of Hanny’s repression, manifesting in audibly graphic torture scenes and sharply contrasting with the banality of the doctor’s waiting room. Directed by the inaugurator of the Alphabetti Theatre Ali Pritchard, The Frights is a sensory and psychological nightmarish voyage that shakes public perceptions of truth and the distinction between sugar-coating and fabricating. It fundamentally critiques the nature of the media platforms from which we receive information, scrutinising public entitlement to information as well as questioning attitudes to international charity and domestic hierarchy.
The Frights Photo: Alphabetti Theatre