Performance Review: Touched at Nottingham Playhouse, 22nd February 2017
Well go to the foot of our stairs, what a performance!
On Tuesday night we went to see Touched and what a privilege it was. One of Nottingham Playhouse’s 40th anniversary productions, written by Nottingham playwright, Stephen Lowe, we got a glimpse of 1940s life in Nottingham. Set during the end of World War II, the story revolves around the impact on those at home living in constant fear and hardship but in true to British tradition, having to keep calm and carry on.
Without giving too much away, here are some of our favourite bits:
Apart from the superb costumes, set design and brilliant Nottingham accents, my favourite scene is when lead character Sandra, played by Nottingham actress Vicky McClure, reveals a secret to her sister Joan. The secret is clearly sending Sandra insane and Vicky plays the part so well, she’s drunk, in the bath and completely tormented by the tragic circumstances of her situation and the world in general. The scene is highly emotive, you really empathise with the character.
What a brilliant performance from Nottingham’s own, Vicky McClure, in the return to her home town. It was great to see Vicky close-up on the stage as opposed to the TV or big screen and the performance of her co-actors certainly didn’t disappoint too! A brilliant set proved to be the perfect backdrop to recreate a post-war Nottingham that my generation can only imagine. The strong sense of community and family certainly shone through and the many references to Nottingham only made it even more poignant for me.
I loved how hugely significant events of WWII set the scene for much of the production, yet at the heart of it really was the story of a group of working-class Nottingham women. Of the three sisters that are pivotal to the story, Sandra is the focus. With her husband away at war and her young child killed in the black out, Sandra puts herself at risk of being the talk of the town. Vicky McClure’s portrayal of her traumas unfolded through fantasy was compelling.
I particularly enjoyed the light-hearted touches that were woven through the serious subjects, and none more so than from Sandra’s two sisters. Betty, in her idyllic bubble of meeting prince charming, and Joan with her bolshie and often comedic approach to the goings on in her family, and the world around her.
Touched brought to life the struggles of wartime back home in England from a fascinating and fresh angle. The play is set in the unique period just after the end of WWII, a limbo land between war and peace, which seemed hopeful yet fraught with nervous anticipation. Waiting for the men to return, the family wonder about the future and how the world will be put back together, but nobody yet fully understands the impact of the war over the seas in Europe.
Along with their fabulous 40s costumes, each of the female roles had wonderful measures of grit, determination and humour within their characterisations, and I enjoyed the nuances of how their individual outlooks and personalities clearly developed throughout the war. The character of Sandra, played by Vicky McClure, was utterly captivating, showing the post-traumatic stress of a woman who has been holding it together for years.
It was a pleasure to watch a historical drama set within Nottingham. The local lingo, accents and places mentioned started me wondering about the experiences of families in my own street and neighbourhood, which I’d never fully considered before. Like a good story should, the story stuck with me long after I’d left the theatre and I’d urge anyone to snap up a ticket while you can!
We highly recommend catching the play if you are staying in Nottingham between now and 4th March, tickets are still available from the Nottingham Playhouse box office: 0115 941 9419