I decided to try something different for this show.
No preparation, no research, no sneaky googling of theatre company names or character traits; for this one I walked in on a rainy evening, ordered a beverage, took my seat and waited for the ride that theatre always takes me on.
What I didn’t realise was the intensity of where this ride was going to take me.
Simple staging, a few metal frames, a guitar, some office chairs and a table on wheels greeted me as I entered the Underground Theatre in the Powerhouse.
Two actors; Sam Foster and Haydn Jones, greeted the audience and began to take us on a rollercoaster of emotion; beginning with a farewell speech and taking us backward through a week of three lives, as we got to know the numerous characters they played.
From a schoolboy footballer with a lot of stress, to a police officer with a history, amongst others, the characters’ stories were told with skill and gentleness, each character becoming more likeable, and importantly more relatable with each scene.
The characters were entwined in each other’s lives over a period of days, until eventually we were taken right back to the beginning, left at the farewell speech we started at and with a lot of reflection about the tale we witnessed and who and how it could relate to our own lives.
What really impressed me about Undertow was how so few props could lead to so many emotions, so much drama, a few giggles and a lot of contemplation.
While some of the script seemed slightly simplistic, this didn’t take away from the storyline, or the message intended.
Both actors (and also the creators of this production) were a perfect balance, as important as each other; each taking turns in leading the stage and bringing their own talent to the fore.
I applaud Shock Therapy Productions in words as loudly as I did in person at The Powerhouse; as easily accessible pieces like Undertow play such an important role in reminding us how important looking after our own and each other’s mental health is.
They also remind us, in particular theatre lovers, that it doesn’t take much more than some simple staging and some impressive talent to be taken on an emotional ride, and also to get such important messages heard.