Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Meet Grace Miller. Gobby, brash and a talented pianist. Just out of prison, she is determined to get her broken life back together. A convicted killer, Gracie still has old wounds to heal and bitter scores to settle. Grace Notes asks the question: what does it take to get a second chance in life?
Grace is just out prison after serving seven years of her 14 for murdering her boyfriend and she’s starting a course at the community centre run by a charity called Notes. This touching solo play is framed by the weekly sessions that Grace attends, initially reluctantly but eventually help her to move forward.
The script was developed by Becky Williams, following research and spending time with ex-prisoners and lawyers. Williams, who also performs the work, also undertook volunteer work with a charity supporting ex-offenders.
Using story and music she takes us through the weeks of the course gradually revealing more of the story behind her sentence as well as her cautious attempts to reintegrate and find her feet on the outside.
There is no set, other than a keyboard, but she makes good use of the whole space; sometimes coming to sit among the audience whilst commenting on the course she is attending thus bringing us into the story.
Williams is a masterful storyteller as well as musician and singer, all of which contributes to the appeal of the show. She shows us the characters she meets on the course with ease creating a world that we can imagine.
The story doesn’t dive into the experience of a woman recently released after serving a sentence for murder. She refers only briefly to it having been self-defence; her encounter with his former dealing partner brings a moment of tension but it isn’t developed and she doesn’t ever refer to how different Camden must seem after seven years away from it, how lost a former prisoner might feel in this familiar but unfamiliar world after years of rigid routine.
Grace Notes is well worth seeing for the power of the storytelling; however, further work could create a really powerful piece.