Fringe Online 2021
Directed by Aisling Gallagher. Cellist Meera Priyanaka Raja. Writer and Executive Producer Lorna Wells. Costume and Set Design Sally Hardcastle, Lighting and Sound Designer Chuma Emembolu. Assistant Director and Stage Manager Gwenan Bain. Producer Rebecca Dilg. Personal Assistant and Support Worker for Lorna Wells, Samantha Mensah. Voices Andrew Walker, Deidre McLaughlin, Hannah Grainey, Daniel Grant, Lorna Wells, Melissa Parke, Michael Wells, Mimi Brooks, Miri Tyaka, Sarah Connop.
For Applecart Arts: Vision Mix Wil Alder, Lighting and Sound Operator Ryan Nicholls, Camera Operators Duncan Hess, Joseph Ed Thomas, Technical assistant Molly Barron, Sales and Marketing Saskia Osterloff, Associate Producer Will Alder, Artistic Director Peter Moreton
Video team ShootMedia Executive Producer Elliott Cranmer, Producer Joshua Valanzuolo, Production Manager Nishita Ruparelia, DOP Harry Andrews, Camera Operator Adam Newland, Sound Recordist Jack Sandham. Till May 5th
‘Pyjamas are the new Black. I have an OBE for services to sleep.’ Welcome to Illusions of Liberty. And there’s an Oscar, where blessings in life include your makeup.
With a shift from blue light to bedside and back, Liberty is permanently tired, at least five different ways of it.
Liberty Jones’s cello is called Bob. After Marley, obvs. She’s thirty-five, a cellist with the Sinfonietta. Used to be principal cellist. But she can’t play now. And can’t remember scores. Or words. ‘Pastrami.. I mean tsunami….’ Corinne Walker’s Liberty wrenches humour out of a long slow fade
Her mother’s unwanted gifts and attention. Yes Preston’s a steady man, and she’s got…it’s been five years now? It’s not fatal. Palm Syndrome. A kind of ME.
Alternating with violet sofa décor, Walker morphs straight into frantic Mom’s American. We learn Liberty’s been with the Sinfonietta ten years. Of her mom she says: ‘She is like a hurricane. Only difference is, you can’t see a hurricane.’ Like Liberty’s illness, it’s invisible.
Underneath frantic attention, Liberty’s mom’s life is being pushed to its side too. And there’s her Louisiana-based mother… Time to flirt with Preston over to pick up the Elgar Concerto score, which isn’t a welcome ask. One anxiously lost over-protective woman caught between two identities…. But the focus is Liberty.
Despite Preston’s support, Liberty’s getting scant help: the endocrinologist who manages to drop every kind of liberal-racist-imperialist assumption in the consultation who assumes she’s mainly into Bob Marley. Everything but the prognosis.
And there’s one unusual trapping most divas don’t enjoy. It’s painful. Meera Priyanaka Raja’s inward cello solos at the foot of Liberty’s bed adds another dimension: her former self who quietly erupts playing (inevitably) the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 and other solo pieces. During such interludes singular things happen, nodal points, decisions.
There’s drifted-in news about disablism in the benefits system, more backstory. And after more painful decisions, we’re given a sudden series of real-life quotes of sufferers with related illnesses, to Saint-Saens ‘The Swan’, as ever on the cello. Discrimination’s ironies get heightened when you say it with a song. And there’s further surprises.
Walker’s performance, striated with voices, energy, shot through with pathos and laughter is a rubato of different speeds. Names can connote how you win them. And there’s another performative surprise.
A finely-calibrated solo play – with different voices – of what it’s like to enter that tunnel of the near-undiagnosable but very real illnesses we’re all heir to. Walker’s both authoritative and quicksilver. And cellist Meera Priyanaka Raja’s performance has a inwardness to catch the play’s theme. Do catch it too.