By Carly Fisher
The lights come up on a messy office filled with toys and children’s clothing surrounding the familiar work place furniture – a desk, chairs, book shelves, a water cooler. There are artworks made by children on the back wall and boxes meant for tidying the place scattered. Welcome to social worker, Mary Hanson’s office. Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this is first hand insight into the tough jobs of social works daily.
The play begins with a voice over – Mary is dictating notes about a young child who has required multiple visits to a doctor after various ‘accidents’ The doctor, we know from further dictation voice-overs, calls for an investigation into the family and the child is removed from the care of his parents and placed in the foster system for his protection.
Against this, we see Mary preparing for a much-required weekend break. We can see from the state of her office that her job is a tough one but we know anyway. From as soon as the abuse of the child is mentioned in the first voice over, the audience is already in the palm of Mary’s hand – this is a tough job but someone has to do it. Getting no respite from the ringing phone, the mess in the office and then a surprise visitor, Mary cannot even so much as get out for a cup of coffee.
The surprise visitor is Luellen James, the young mother of the child we have just heard about. She has dressed in her finest clothes and walked ten miles to come and speak with Mary but now comes across as distracted, nervous and unprepared. When we hear why she has come, what her proposition is, and the tension that ensues because of it, we understand her nerves even more.
The play is short running at only just over half an hour and it absolutely left me wanting more. I hope that the playwright, Ara Watson, will consider developing this into a longer piece because the story is gripping. Just as it really beefs up however, it ends. It is a well thought-out script that I thoroughly enjoyed watching.
The set proved to be a very clever use of the Bakehouse space – it was detailed and whole, despite obviously being removable so as to be able to share the space with other fringe performances. The performances by Eva Frick and Payton Hogan were strong (only critique would be the accent work) from both ladies and as a pair, they worked really well together to deliver honest and dynamic performances. It is being of the performances by these women and the skilled direction by Louise Heesom, that we are disappointed to see the play ending so soon.
Really glad I didn’t miss this great little show at the Bakehouse – it has been one of my favourite fringe performances thus far and I look forward to seeing more from Speechbox Theatre Productions in the future.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.