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Theatre Review: How We Came To Be

By Anna Rogers | 21st July 2018

The future of adults with learning difficulties demands us to look at the past in Once Seen’s new play. And look we most definitely do, but more importantly we listen. And this focused listening is what highlights the impact of this performance. Beyond powerful, immensely moving, the company makes it mark poignantly, confidently and assertively,leaving every audience member feeling, questioning and searching their hearts and minds for answers.

This production forces it’s audience to take a brave step into the shoes of it’s actors, their true personal stories and the political and social discussions surrounding everyday essential decisions made by higher authorities affecting so many children and adults with learning difficulties. Set in a futuristic Inter-planetary Strategic Meeting for Learning Disabilities, we are privy to watching as fellow board members, the authoritative stances and ‘test case study’ Eve, a woman with a learning disability in the year 2018, address her future, discuss examples and the decision making process of ‘what’s best for her’.

Once Seen tackle telling their individual stories in this original play, with poise, emotion, beauty and passion, eloquently stressing and delivering the importance of the change needed for those with learning difficulties to allow them a fairer, more equal and diverse future. Clean staging and effective deliberate moments of breaking the fourth wall really allow the audience to connect with the actors and feel their emotion.

The stories are heart breaking and full of determination and hope. Every single story and performance moved me and left me watery eyed with compassion and a huge sense of pride for this strong and empowered cast. The delivery of the storytelling captured the mood, emotion and moment perfectly, particularly the beautifully choreographed dance movement and the gentle acoustic guitar played by Alex Cromarty. The atmosphere was electric and brimming with pride, energy and the overflowing message that we all need to listen and think that bit more.

It is clear artistic directors, Matt Harper-Hardcastle and El Stannage have really understood the message the company wanted to deliver, not just the overall one but each and every single one of the casts too on a personable note. High praise must go to them as well as the cast, for making such an important piece of theatre. This is a play everyone should watch and I truly hope it is carried further. Every workplace, educational setting, and member of parliament in particular should watch this for it’s honest, open and hard hitting messages, high priority topics and the emotive real life cause and effects and their impacts. Discussions that more of us should be having with those whose lives are affected by them, real people living with decisons made without their consideration, who aren’t being listened to. Once Seen highlights just how important and wonderful a space the arts are for giving these voices a much needed platform.

I hope the cast feel as happy and proud of themselves as they looked on stage, because I haven’t seen a production so raw, high impacting and informative for a very long time. Please, please, catch this if you can, it’s one you won’t want to miss and a piece that will stay with you for a very long time.

You can see How We Came To Be at John Cooper Studio, 41 Monkgate tonight at 7.30pm.

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