Brighton Fringe 2018
“Hungry Wolf VYT return to Brighton Fringe with another original piece of cutting-edge theatre. Keisha and Mo are foster sisters, they are also the misfits. When Mo’s depression makes the ground give way from under her, Keisha struggles to understand the illness that seems to be devastating the lives of the people she loves.” Goodbye Rosetta, by Katherine Manners is directed by Conor Baum.
According to Creative Director Rebekah Whitely The Hungry Wolf Visionary Theatre company develop new writing for each production. Goodbye Rosetta was written by Katherine Manners and then workshopped by the company to produce this show and it’s a MUST SEE!
The action unfolds at a pace with dialogue that’s tight and punchy. Scenes unfold concisely driving the story forward as we are introduced to a group of young adults waiting for the exam results that will determine their immediate future and university. A future that will tear some of their friendships apart as they move into the next stages of their lives. The energy of youth explodes all over the stage. The confusion, the role play, the peer rivalry, the love and the desperate need to belong to a tribe is perfectly delivered by these young actors with focussed and efficient direction by Conor Baum.
University and the world of higher education is not for everyone. Whilst Laura (Georgia Simpson) is destined for greatness and with high grades expected to go to Cambridge, Noel (Owen Edmunds) has just broken into a warehouse. He declares with bravado that he could go to university if he wanted to, but he doesn’t want to end up in debt. He’s a drug dealer on the side, playing it cool. He constantly puts his younger brother Dylan (Oscar Lloyd) down to raise his own status in front of his peers but when Dylan is in trouble his actions suggest that brotherly love and the need to belong holds true beneath the macho façade.
As the story unfolds the central theme of depression and mental health issues emerges from the relationship between two sisters Mo and Keisha played convincingly by Bronte Sandwell -Moore and Pauline Kehlet – Schou. Mo is suffering from a serious depression and is “banged up in the looney bin”, says Jodie, (Mia Mottier) a wild and intelligent fellow inmate. Whilst hyperactive Jodie likes to listen to loud music and is well aware that in her own case, it is a traumatic history that has caused her to be in such an institution, Mo has been sucked into a nihilistic void. She points to the universe as a metaphor for her condition. When her sister Keisha pushes Mo to explain her depression she says, “You might as well ask me is there life on Mars. Nobody fucking knows!” Keisha needs Mo to confide in, to give her a sense of belonging, a sense of family, but Mo is drifting away.
The metaphor of the universe is used as a device throughout the play to convey the random nature of existence. An existential void without meaning; often cruel but not without beauty. “We used to believe that the earth was the centre of the universe”, says Mo, ‘but in fact we are a spec amongst thousands of other planets’.
Everyone is judging Mo for her depression. Depression is a lonely place where nothing seems to make any sense any more, all purpose is lost! We are a spec in a pointless universe and to be told to “pull yourself together” is meaningless as all concept of self is lost. The concept of self may be a social construct and we may be aware that this is the case, but to someone who is depressed none of this matters anymore because they can’t go on playing the intellectual games- and these characters don’t want to compete and don’t want to play roles that have been pre-determined for them. It all ceases to make sense in the grand scheme of things.
This is a play about now. These young adults are trying to find a place of belonging, to maintain bonds, to seek permanence, to understand what the hell is going on when nobody seems to have an answer in a world where social media and advertising continues to fracture and distort reality.
With a cast of nine, four of the characters have mental health issues and have been institutionalised. There’s Matt (Roman Hayeck-Green) who’s in love with the ill-fated Micky, (Amy Lubach) Jodie and Mo.
For their friends on the outside of the institution things don’t look too positive either: Laura, seems to be the most successful of the crew. She’s lined up for Cambridge, but she thinks that she’s a fuck up. She’s got a serious alcohol problem. To make matters worse she’s in love with Tam who has other plans for their future together. Whilst Noel turns to crime, Tam has plans to escape abroad and Dylan’s cutting himself because he has ‘ceased to feel’.
In a society that insists that we ‘Try harder’, Goodbye Rosetta explores the complex needs of a community of young people struggling to survive in a fragmented universe. Wanting to be together in a world that forces them apart. It’s a cry for a community that listens. A cry for us to talk to each other about how we feel, as to talk about things is to make them real. It’s a cry to keep the arts alive, to enable us to have a voice and have a platform to talk about things that can easily be swept under the carpet.
For me, through all the turmoil, the anorexia, the tragedy of it all Jodie’s awareness of condition is her saving grace. She knows that abuse is at the root of her problems and is not afraid to say so.
I can’t help but recall Margaret Thatcher’s notorious remark, in an interview in 1982, proclaiming that ‘there’s no such thing as society’.
Interpret this as you wish, but If you’ve got children, or care about the future of our young people and the importance of community, I recommend that you go and see this play by this brilliant young company.
All of the cast deserve a mention. Oscar Lloyd, Pauline Kehlet-Schou, Owen Edmunds, Bronte Sandwell – Moore, Jasper Ryan-Cater, Georgia Simpson, Roman Hayeck-Green, Amy Lubach, Mia Mottier. (with understudies Jessica Smith and Georgy Pleece) are a tight ensemble and a meteor shower of talent. In my opinion this is youth theatre at its best.