Review by Olivia Ruggiero
Resilience is the first word that comes to mind upon reflecting about Tuesday evenings preview of Breathing Corpses, produced by Eye Contact Theatre Company. A show that has been rescheduled no fewer than three times, it is simply a triumph that they could bring this piece of theatre to life – no pun intended. I have been waiting to see this show since it was first announced in 2020 – the premise of it intriguing to me.
As director Jess Davies says, “does sudden traumatic experience become less traumatic the further removed from the person you are?” Laura Wade doesn’t seem to think so. This play is deftly crafted and well-written, making subtle but clear links to the intertwining lives of people who seemingly have nothing to do with one another, if not for their posthumous encounters.
The set is simple and yet clever as a bed transforms into a counter, a stool, a place to hide props and set dressings. Kate Beere does wonderful work of transforming the space at KXT and making the set feel fresh, and different for every varying scenario. Sophie Parker’s lighting design is simple, with trademarks of her attention to detail in the fluorescent overhead lighting, the yellowish hue of the bedside lamps. Her unique style and ability to assist in creating an atmosphere for the actors to play into is showcased well here. Whilst this show doesn’t give much room for her to show her flair and creativity it is still impressive she is able to demonstrate such skill with what little she has to work with.
Emma Wright is excellent as Amy – she creates a loveable, relatable, and engaging character. Wright demonstrates excellent comedic timing, and her accent work is authentic. A very enjoyable performance.
Joshua Shediak’s gives an excellent performance, although he doesn’t have as much to say or do as his cast members. He is physically present and charming the whole time he is on stage, earning some very well-deserved laughs as the slightly awkward and stilted Ray.
Nisrine Amine and Xavier Coy’s chemistry as a couple is very believable. Their dialects could use some work to become more authentic however this did not take away from their intense performances. You can sense the audience holding their breath during their scene together, unsure of whether to look away, but too fully engrossed in the performance to risk missing a beat.
A huge congratulations to Di Adams and Gerard Carroll for stepping up to the plate. COVID has rocked the Independent Theatre world and this production seems to have borne the brunt of it, with Monica Sayers and Mark Langham going into isolation on Tuesday morning. Adams and Carroll did so well to keep the show going. They may have had their scripts in hand, but they still gave brilliant portrayals as Elaine and Jim. I would have loved to see Sayers and Langham in the roles they prepared for, as perhaps the show would have felt a little more cohesive but never-the-less the show must and did go on.
Breathing Corpses is a show worth seeing (perhaps even more so when the cast is complete). It has a brilliant script and the production team have tackled it exceptionally well.
Image Credit: Becky Matthews