Theatre Review
 

 

Home Reviewers

 

 

 

 

Foursight Theatre presents


Forever in Your Debt


Writer: Nick Walker


Director: Sarah Thom


Associate Director: Kate Hale


Set and Costume Design: Janet Vaughan


Composer/Co-musical director: Derek Nisbet


Lighting Design: Arnim Friess


Jacksons Lane Theatre


25 – 27 Mar 2010

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

A review by James Buxton for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Forever in Your Debt is a suicide musical, it tells the stories of four members of a family who each try to commit suicide due to the cycle of debt they are trapped in by jumping off a forty story skyscraper – Tall Sally – a landmark in the city. The cleaning lady, Vera, however attempts to convince each member not to take their lives and join her band at the top of the tower block.


The highlight of Forever in Your Debt has to be the live music played by the actors on stage. There was an interesting array of instrumentation, from vocal harmonies to accordion, bass, mandolin and many more. The live music created an enjoyably irreverent atmosphere as the actors sung ditties about how their characters has fallen into debt, at times parodying other musicals. The overall effect was of a wacky, slightly absurd band attempting to make fun of the recession whilst maintaining sympathy for their character’s drastic choice of action.


Sarah Thom as Vera, the cleaning lady of the tower block, played the caring, councillor to each family member with a strong Midlands accent, portraying an honest earnestness to help these desperate people with natural concern and a warm homeliness. Thom was the unifying element throughout, at times stepping out of the action to become the director, (which she actually is), breaking the fourth wall and making us aware of the self conscious theatricality of the play, perhaps detracting from the overall imaginative engagement with it.


In an almost all female cast, even the father, Pippa, played by Graeme Rose, was dressed up in drag. Rose managed to hold his ground as he satirized the lengths people go to, such as having a sex change to escape debt and provided comical moments of expressive facial contortions. Jill Dowse, played the mother, Geraldine, with a zany bitterness and the relationship between the irresponsible parents was suitably childish and amusing.


The action took place on the top of a skyscraper which was created through sloping angular rostra with various trap doors popping open through which the actors appeared and disappeared. The inventive staging allowed for parts of the stage to become other objects, such as a boat in one scene.


A sense of being on the top of a skyscraper was conveyed effectively, particularly when the sound effect of wind was first heard and then the loud noise of a helicopter flying overhead. The helicopter sound effect served as a device to segregate each story but was overused and felt abrasive and out of place in a play that was so irreverent.


A spotlight swung across the stage every time the sound of a helicopter was heard and created the sense of a searchlight from a police helicopter, intensifying the pressure of the outside world on the family members as each teetered on the edge.


The blocking was well done and there was a definite sense that this was a play that had been thoughtfully directed, with the cast adopting well choreographed poses, they used the space effectively to convey the sense of being at the top of a building. 


Thom’s plain, cleaning lady’s costume contrasted well with the wacky costumes of Graeme Rose dressed in drag and his daughter played by Emilie Brodie, who had a handlebar moustache and wore a cowboy’s outfit. Their costumes were fun and outlandish and contributed to the overall zaniness of the piece.


Forever in Your Debt makes light of tragic subject matter, all the more poignant as it is based loosely on a true story. It attempts to walk the tightrope between the two masks of drama but falls off it too many times as it attempts to achieve a balance between comedy and tragedy.


The stories were at times laboured and disjointed, not all doing justice to the issues such as suicide, debt and family relations they were attempting to explore. At times the over expressiveness of the actors was pantomime-esque and the circumstances of their lives were farcical and too removed from reality to draw upon the strengths of tragedy it was trying to make light of.


The songs were jaunty ditties that led the narrative but became a little repetitive after a while with some strained rhymes and questionable lyricism. The live music however was of a high quality and imaginatively performed. The serious ending may not have felt appropriate to the tone of the play which was irreverent and comical but ended up being a bit tragic and hollow, failing to reach the seriously comic heights of the fortieth floor.

 

 

Venue: Jacksons Lane, Highgate, London
Dates and Times: 25 - 27 March at 8pm
Tickets: £12.75 (£10.75 concessions)
Box Office: 020 8341 4421 020 8341 4421 or www.jacksonslane.org.uk

Venue: Weymouth College Theatre
Dates and Times: 30 March at 7.30pm
Tickets: £12 (£9.50 concessions)
Box Office:  01305 208702  01305 208702

Venue: New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
Dates and Times: 31 March at 7.30pm
Tickets: £9 - £13 (concessions available)
Box Office: 023 9264 9000  023 92649000 or www.newtheatreroyal.com

 

 

 

 

Copyright © EXTRA! EXTRA All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

Home Reviewers