"Distorted" SHU Review
A hard hitting play about knife crime told through the story of Daniel Pritchard, a young man stabbed and unfortunately killed, and his family's perspectives as they try to cope with the grief of such a sudden loss.
Firstly all I have to say is WOW. This group has suffered an immense amount of pressure from all angles and absolutely triumphed in the face of adversity! Every single person in this play shined and I cannot imagine any of them not getting a high grade from this. They built their own set compromising of a boxed in and intimate set of white flats and premiered this sorrowful piece in a room that has never been performed in before! That alone has to be mentioned and appreciated as their hard work and dedication was shown in their shockingly good performance.
Sarah Shortall playing Mary Pritchard, Daniel's mother, was immensely believable. I could not keep my eyes off of her as I watched deeply at every subtle expression of sorrow, every outburst of pain and suffering and her stillness in anticipation. It was almost as though she was frozen in her grief and Sarah really portrayed the torment of losing a child. I thought although she was obviously heartbroken over her loss, yet she was still so strong in the decisions she made to meet the killer and move on from the agony. Sarah had a fantastic vocal quality and diversity in emotions throughout this play, congrats to you Sarah!
Joanne Pritchard, Daniel's sister, played by Leah Cooper. What a brilliant role Leah played. Her survivor's guilt and tortured feelings really shone through in every scene. She was a scapegoat in this whole situation and really got across the neglect she was experiencing from her parents. Her hushed tone of voice showed her shame in scenes of sadness and exasperated reactions to her parents strifes gave us a very 3D performance. I really believed that Leah and Sarah were daughter and mother, their rocky yet close relationship was very apparent. Well done, Leah!
John Pritachard, the alcoholic and unforgiving father portrayed by Ellis Gregory was a hit in my books! He perfectly encapsulated the rage and un-acceptance of a father not coping with the death of his son. He had great interactions with all the characters and was a very believable character. His inflections were great and his stature, facial expressions and movement all sold us of his age and told us that he was not willing to let go of the hurt. Go Ellis!
The woman on every characters lips as Daniel's murderer - Emma Price - played by Lucy Hurd. What a shockingly good transformation was this one. Lucy absolutely blindsided me and all I can say she is talented! She embodied every single part of an unruly, evil yet tormented soul that has been through hell and back. Her character flipped from being vulnerable and human when we were told about her abandonment as a child and the unthinkable events in her childhood, which very much made me almost sympathise with her. To a conniving, foul-mouthed and manipulative murderer full of trickery and lies. Her body language in her prison scenes were remarkable as one moment she was hunched over and fidgeting her legs in impatience and discomfort, yet cooled and chilled, laid back and at home when boasting of her fascination with sweets to manipulate and hide her hurt. The way she spoke was slightly husky and rough and her costume was spot on to encapsulate the complex character that was Emma Price. You ought to be really proud of yourself Lucy!
Finally a special mention to Suzi Ford who played Elizabeth McKellan the (correct me if I'm wrong please!) social worker/psychiatrist to Emma Price. Suzi stepped in to play this role and nailed it. Her posture and calming voice was so naturalistic and she was so comfortable on stage. Very believable!
I have to give a nod to the set and technical side of this performance. The projections of Emma's mugshot and old home videos of Daniel complimented the performance so well and reminded us that Daniel is at the heart of this story. I especially loved the slow motion white dove, this will stick in my mind for a while. And the care and respect that went in to the presentation of knife crime victims in the last year at the end were thought-provoking and sent us back down to earth, realising that this is a very serious issue where countless innocent lives are lost. "From September 2017-2018 there were more than 39,000 stabbings in England and Wales alone." Now that is something to think about.
I do really hope you guys put this play on again, it is so important and I'd love to have it on as part of SOSFEST 2020.