EFR - Reviews of Crazed

Crazed

Wed 3rd – Mon 29th August 2016

reviews

Caragh Aylett

at 18:06 on 10th Aug 2016

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‘Crazed’ appears as a throwback to the teen classic ‘Skins’. It is written and performed by a group of students from Manchester University who draw on their experiences as students.

The narrative occurs around a sofa set in the middle of the stage. This gives the piece a centre and visual focal point among the conversations that make up the play. The piece begins with dim lighting on the stage revealing a couple chatting. Unfortunately, this is the only place where lighting choices are effective. In other places blackouts are sudden and harsh and break up the piece in a jarring and unhelpful way. If this is designed to symbolise the passing of time then the cast should make some effort to show this in their clothing choices, instead it is left unclear.

The piece plays with ideas of friendship. The house of students is broken up into a long term couple, a newly dating couple, and two more friends. The dynamic between them is, in most places, unnatural and badly scripted. Lines come across as uncomfortable and awkward and there is little chemistry between Joe (Fergus Macphee) and Rosie (Georgia Phillips) - the long term couple. The character of Rosie, herself, is very two dimensional and her maternal nature is overplayed. Equally, Liv’s (Catherine Cranfield) outburst in various sections of the piece is slightly reminiscent of GCSE drama. However, this wasn't a result of bad acting talent but rather a reflection of a bad script. In contrast, the character of Nick (Jack Harrison) is played subtly and naturally and, while having arguably the smallest role, it is clear that he is the strongest actor.

The relationship between the new couple, Milo (Bertie Gibbs) and Kally (Eliana Ostro), turns a lot darker when in a particular section of the piece sex is not consensual. The scene is performed in full light in the centre of the stage and to their credit it is well acted. Gibbs' persistence is contrasted perfectly by Ostro’s pained and uncomfortable expression and the audience is left distressed- as perhaps they should be. The narrative that follows this scene debates the line of consensual sex; however, it is not given the attention that it deserves. The deeply troubling issues of rape in a relationship could have been interrogated further; but is not. Instead, the conversation between Rosie and Callie appears forced and while Liv’s anger over Callie ‘lies’ is strong, it is quickly undermined by a scene with Milo where she accepts Callie story. The scene between Liv and Milo ends the piece and it is disappointing that such a hugely poignant and sensitive issue has not been dealt with appropriately.

This ‘Skins’-esque piece leaves me as disappointed as finding out that Sixth Form was not, well, was not like ‘Skins’. I wanted the piece to fully explore the issues upon which it touches, but it does not and I wanted to see high quality acting and direction. The show has a lot of potential but in its current form it does not deliver.

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Amy Mace

at 18:48 on 10th Aug 2016

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This short piece of drama from Manchester-based theatre company Ecce Theatre is brave in its engagement with such sensitive subject matter. In the casual and comfortable setting of a student living room, they compel audience members to consider uncomfortable questions regarding the use and meaning of the word ‘rape’, tackling sexual consent and the moral and emotional minefield that surrounds it with startling force.

Its young adult content and the brashness with which it is approached makes it obvious that this is a piece of student theatre. Quite rightly they have put it out there in order to start an essential dialogue about the confusion often surrounding rape when it occurs within relationships or with previous partners. Yet the manner with which they handle it often lacks depth and maturity amidst the student banter and shallow conversation. Their message still resonates, however, as the situation that Callie (Eliana Ostro) finds herself in is one that many girls may recognise. The hurt that stems from a sexual encounter she cannot rationalise or classify leads to insufficient justifications and a dangerous sense of guilt that makes for powerful moments of dialogue between herself and her friends.

The young cast make the play an accessible route into this much-needed discussion. There are some great castings, with Catherine Cranfield’s performance as the loud and proud Liv leading to some particularly funny moments. The well-spoken students could, however, be unlikeable at times, with their drug-taking, Fjallenraven Kanken backpacks and drinking games painting an accurate picture of the stereotypical hipster student lifestyle that may be lost on anybody not studying at such an institution. The scene changes and insubstantial dialogue seem a little unimaginative and by the end feel formulaic, with mundane discussions of relationships and hangovers feeling at times like they had been lifted from 'Made in Chelsea'. It is only toward the end of the play that its moral purpose above and beyond caricaturing student life was made clear.

The scene in which Callie is raped is shockingly graphic and, to their credit, bravely carried out by Ostro and Bertie Gibbs. It certainly catches the audience off guard, but as a result feels slightly brazen and gratuitous. The show crucially reinforces that ‘no means no’, a message that we should promote at all possible opportunities. But the explicitness with which the rape is enacted excludes the younger audience at which they should be directing this lesson. This is a great shame, as it would otherwise have been an ideal platform from which to educate, empower and remind young people about their right to their own bodies.

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