Camden Fringe 2013
Serena Haywood’s play Pause explores the different perspectives of those relatives and friends, in particular the mother of a young man who falls into a vegetative state following an accident. This play developed from a one-woman monologue and it is clear that despite the remnants of that being there this show has come a long way in development to become the piece it is now.
Ryan Wichart plays Chris, the boy in a vegetative state but luckily with flashbacks we are able to see him showcase his acting chops a little. However the most exquisite moments come from him when he is lying helpless on the bed. Something about the way he holds himself, the ability he has to portray this body of a boy without his brain active is luminous to watch. The way he holds his hands in a sort of signature fist clench and his constant eye rolling coupled by his slackened mouth is an excellent way to show this young man in a vegetative state. It is testament to his skill that Wichart is able to consistently switch between this state to being awake, alive in a flashback.
Caryl Jones gives his mother Victoria the right level of neurotic over protective mother and kindhearted generous soul. She was a difficult character to like and the play is uncomfortable to watch, but it was a wonderful and intimate insight into what it might be like to process the fact a loved one may not ever be the same again. Samuel Casey is excellent as Chris’ closest friend and the suggested complex layers in their relationship a beautifully bought out for the audience by Casey’s skillful acting and Tutku Barbaros’ direction. Sarita Dallimore is very believable as the nurse tasked with managing the balance of what to tell Victoria about Chris’ progress. It is clear she is determined to be a compassionate caregiver but at the same time torn, as she must be due to the tragedy of the reality of the situation, that Chris is unlikely to return to his former vibrant self.
Credit to director Babaros for making sure the staging of this production had fluidity and grace with the rather chaotic scene changes and Rose Rowson’s simple yet effective set design ensured we could be easily and believably taken away to the different locations, Victoria’s kitchen and the sea wall.
With a little more development and a bigger budget this piece could offer an excellent insight into the sort of process that relatives, care givers and the patients themselves go through in this sort of situation. A wider audience needs to see and experience work like Pause. It is an important piece of theatre that deserves a chance to flex its wings in another more prominent theatre space.