Directed by Ria Milton
Dates 10th to 14th July 2018
‘From the Gods who sit in grandeur
grace comes somehow violent.’ Aeschylus
Tamsin packs boxes in a warehouse, on the clock, to a target, with a zero-hour contract. Her brother Dean is housebound, working to obsessive compulsive rituals of his own.
When Dean is declared fit for work, their benefits are cut. There are phone calls to make, appeals to lodge and endless forms to fill in. Tamsin must pack faster, work harder and fight to get the support she and her brother so desperately need.
Katherine Soper, with delicate and sensitively powerful writing, asks what our labour is worth and how can life be lived when the system is stacked against you?
CTW are proud to present the first amateur production of this award-winning play.
Dean Carmody: Alexander Bloom
Tamsin Carmody: Anastasia Spence
The Lead: Meg Rowsell
Luke Mburu: Max Taylor Saunders
Tuesday 10th July 2018
There are some stage productions which whisk the audience off into a fantasy land of escapism, bringing you back to the real world with a jolt after the final curtain. Wish List by Katherine Soper is not one of these productions. In CTW’s latest offering, one is forced to face the dull, relentless and often stressful reality of daily life for many people in 21st century Britain. At the heart of Soper’s sharp script lie the injustices in modern employment practices and the benefits system. However, before you start manning the barricades and reaching for your red flag, it also shows the power of the human spirit to make the best of the life which they have been dealt.
Strong stuff for a summer evening, which is handled competently by the four young cast members with some clever direction and visual aids.
Anastasia Spence is believable as Tamsin, juggling a dead end zero hours contract packing job and the care of her mentally ill brother after the death of their mother.
Max Taylor Saunders puts in a physically arresting performance as Luke, the student for whom the warehouse is just a fill-in before going to college.
Meg Rowsell has to be commended for the way she shows Petra’s humanity emerge from the emotionless, automated confines that she is working under as Tamsin and Luke’s supervisor.
The stand out performance, however, is given by Alexander Bloom as Tamsin’s brother, Dean who seems to capture the resignation and frustration of someone living with an OCD type condition perfectly. One suspects that a lot of research has gone into ensuring the accurate portrayal of this role.
Wish List is not an easy watch and that owes as much to the heartfelt performances as the social iniquities highlighted in Soper’s script. You may not want to click on another online order again. However, thoughtful direction allows the play to also be seen for its theatrical merits. Spence and Saunders’ mimed packing movements allows the audience to visualise the bleak automated nature of their work in the warehouse, with barely a prop in sight. These relentless, repetitive movements are also mirrored in Dean’s ritualistic tapping and obsessing with his hair gel.
A large television screen reminds the workers of their targets but also denotes scene changes. This is particularly poignant as we witness the human side of Tamsin and Luke in the pub together when they manage to get some time off. A powerful rendition of Meatloaf’s “I’ll do anything for love” shows that there is more to Tamsin than packing and benefit form filling and allows Spence to demonstrate a competent singing voice.
Wish List raises more questions than it answers. Nobody’s wish is fulfilled at the end of the play. The somewhat abrupt open ending, however, seems fitting. This is a play about real lives and real lives invariably don’t have neat outcomes. One is left with a glimmer of hope, however, that whatever befalls these characters (as with us all) they will always still have the capacity to love, laugh, hope , dream and wish. This production is the amateur premiere of Wish List. The cast and crew have plenty to be proud of here. The powers that be in our modern unjust society, may not.
Tamsin although barely a teenager herself, following the death of her mother, is left with the mammoth task of caring for her younger brother who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and who seldom leaves the bathroom and has issues with his use of hair gel. She must work a 10-hour shift in a packing warehouse to provide for them both and deal with the labyrinth of a benefits system that mistakenly says he is fit for work.
This play by Katherine Soper won the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting and is a challenging 4 hander which relies heavily on making the characters recognisable to us all.
Anastasia Spence as Tamsin gave a mature performance showing us the anxiety-ridden girl trying to cope while being ‘boxed’ in by all her responsibilities. She gave a consummate and emotional performance and certainly made the character very relatable.
Max Taylor Saunders as Luke her work colleague and friend was thoroughly believable to watch as the temporary worker passing time prior to going to college and trying to give Tamsin the encouragement to make more of herself. Max had great interaction with Anastasia which made the story all the more emotional.
Meg Roswell as Petra the warehouse lead had a difficult role as she comes across as the aggressor who you think is out to penalise Tamsin but we realise throughout the play that she is simply doing her job to maintain her position.
However, it was Alexander Bloom who intrigued me the most. His portrayal of Dean, complete with tapping, ‘rituals’ and OCD behaviour was fascinating to watch. Every facial expression he gave told a story and like Tamsin, at times I could feel her frustration but also her need to protect him. This was a detailed and thorough performance and great credit to Alexander for submerging himself completely in the role.
This was a strong production and great credit to the team on delivering such a challenging play especially in today’s society where mental illness is such a hot topic.