It’s a pleasure to be back watching the University of Northampton 3rd Year Acting Students present their Flash Fringe Festival plays! This year they are taking place at the little Playhouse Theatre on Clare Street, as well as at the Creative Hub on the Waterside Campus. If all goes well, I hope to see all ten plays that are at the Playhouse.
This is how One Day Son is described in the programme: “A naturalistic play where 2 families must battle tragedy: both the ordinary and the extraordinary. This piece presents a world identical yet very different to our own, and we learn as our characters do that not everything is at it seems.”
It’s a suitably intriguing description for a distinctly intriguing play. Written by cast member Dylan Morris, it’s a neatly structured, thought-provoking and highly emotional piece. Teenage friends Ashley and Izzy suspect that their fathers – who work together felling trees – are not telling the entire truth about the nature of their work; but if they question them, Ashley’s father Marcus clams up and Izzy’s father Eli gets angry. Marcus’ wife Rose is expecting another baby, but their happy plans turn to a nightmare when the birth is premature. Can some kind of external pressure lead the way to a successful birth?
Mr Morris has a great ear for domestic conversation, and how sometimes the important message within a conversation is left unsaid. I enjoyed how our understanding of the unfolding situation grew with each scene, so that what is deliberately confusing at first becomes clear as a bell at the end. The play doesn’t shy away from grappling with some very difficult subjects, and its themes of trust and betrayal, and the nature of “playing God” is very well handled.
Simply, but well staged, the play also boasts some excellent performances; George Hastrup as Eli has terrific stage presence and performs with great assurance and authority, and I really enjoyed the emotion-packed performance of Stephanie Eva Radcliffe as Rose, sorrowfully trying to keep her family together in the face of the most unexpected adversity.
It was a shame that the camera that Marcus uses to capture his training video with Eli still has the lens cap on – that took away from what had otherwise felt like a very realistic production. Nevertheless it’s a good production of a great piece of writing, which absolutely held the audience’s attention throughout. And yes, I did shed a tiny tear at the end!