Theatre of Survival (venue)
20 August 2022 (released)
20 August 2022
Showcased over three nights, She Shrieked, written & directed by David Stokes, approaches the heavy and evocative topic of suicidal ideation and existentialist despair, highlighting the importance of friendship and the preciousness of life.
Not one for the faint-hearted, this self-funded short play is about mental health and surviving in the modern world. It was jam-packed with dark humour and realism that left me feeling strangely inspired.
The two-woman show starring Demi Leigh as Ninette & Annie Louise Foreman as Mimi is about the incidental meeting of two strangers on a deserted office floor which leads to an extraordinary impasse, where every word uttered determines their survival.
The intimacy of Actors East in Dalston, an initially hard-to-find underground theatre, is the perfect setting for this simplistic yet highly evocative 40-minute performance.
This stage featured nothing but two doors and two chairs. The minimalism focused the attention on the most important aspect of the show - the script and its delivery by Leigh and Foreman. This was further emphasised by the Directors decision to omit any music from the show, leaving only the fourth wall to separate the audience from the story that was about to unfold.
The show began with Mimi entering stage left and edging towards the door stage right. She stared out ominously and it became clear that she was actually gazing out of a window and faced with a dramatic decision.
Moments later Ninette bounds in, having spotted this troubled soul, strikes up a conversation and the dramatic dialogue begins to play out.
The script really carries this show. The actors delivered with impeccable timing bringing this hard-hitting subject to life with their interpretation of Mini and Ninette. They didn’t miss a beat and kept the audience engaged, hanging off their every word with skilful use of dramatic pauses.
Honest sharing of personal experiences - the characters both told a series of relatable stories of modern life involving their families, relationships, work and general London living. The crux of this story is survival and finding meaning in life. As we follow these two characters in crisis, there is a dramatic twist halfway through that no one could predict.
Their strong delivery and clever use of stage should be applauded, rarely does an actor get no respite, and these two professionally commanded the stage and did an excellent job of transporting the audience. Thanks to the compelling acting and storytelling, after the first twenty minutes, I almost forgot I was watching a show and felt like I was in the room with the characters, sympathizing with their difficulties.
On paper such a minimalistic ensemble wouldn’t be my first choice of show, however; I was pleasantly surprised at how captivated I was.
Although hard-hitting in its portrayal of two suicidal women, the comic relief throughout made such a sensitive issue easier to digest. It’s amazing that we live in a society where we can approach such sensitive subjects and make them an open discussion through the arts.
With mental health affecting one in four in the UK, this show is approachable, relatable and provides a sense of being seen and heard.
Tickets were only £14 but free for mental health charity members - Director David has plans for the show to be displayed at a larger venue, perhaps alongside a show similar in nature - definitely one to keep an eye out for.
The 40 minutes flew by and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to a friend. It goes to show you don't need a huge budget, complex staging or scene changes to curate a compelling show. Sometimes all you need is a great script and a couple of brilliant actors - kudos to Annie, Demi and David.