4Play 2013 Deafinitely Theatre

This year’s 4Play by Deafinitely Theatre – an initiative which supports deaf writers, was hosted at the newly opened Park Theatre. So newly opened in fact, they were literally putting up the front door and frantically posting up “wet paint” signs as I arrived. Nevertheless, the theatre was welcoming and the performance space intimately gorgeous with the auditorium seating 200 people. I sat perched in the circle with fantastic sight lines, even for a little’un like me.

Having attended last year (4Play 2012) I came with a few expectations of form, content and style. However, new writing opens up for infinite possibilities so the anticipation of what was about to commence was filled with intrigue.

Buddha Knows by Aliya Gulamani and directed by Deafinitely Theatre’s artistic director Paula Garfield was a rollercoaster of ups and downs. A highly relevant piece of societal perspective with moments of comic relief, just as you thought you knew where the story was headed Aliya took you in the other direction. Performers Brian Duffy and David Sands had wonderful on stage chemistry whilst Charlotte Arrowsmith delivered a beautifully truthful performance drawing the audience into her character’s desperate desire to have a baby.

Mine was next up, written by Limping Chicken’s very own Charlie Swinbourne and directed by Jeni Draper. (Charlie’s blog) Now, I don’t often cry at the theatre but this piece moved me so much I was on the edge of my seat, holding back tears. Mine cleverly portrayed many complexities through a simple script. Whilst much of the signed dialogue had a recorded voice over to enable access for the audience, there were choice moments where beautiful storytelling through BSL was left in it’s purity. This was wonderfully delivered by Jean St Clair who played the protagonist Annie. The lack of explicitness contributed to the powerful impact of the piece; the strong subtext, the conversations not had, the things that make us human and unite us all.

After the interval (which was much needed to recover from the emotional rollercoaster), Lianne Herbert made her second appearance at 4Play after showcasing her first short play last year Twentyfourseven. The Door was directed by Ramesh Meyyappan and the character of The Girl performed by Lina Kankeviciute. The play consisted of no dialogue but a montage of scenes which could have been repeated forever to show the girl’s endless entrapment inside a locked room. The performance exhibited Lina’s command of physical theatre skills as she allowed the audience to see into the mind and memories of her character.

The last piece of the evening was En-Route, written by the familiar face to Deafinitely Theatre; Matthew Gurney and directed by Daryl Jackson. The comical but endearing story that saw an unlikely friendship formed between an old man and a Libyan backpacker without a passport. With deafness in common but still a language barrier the highly visual communication was perfectly placed upon the stage. They say a picture paints a thousand words, if that is the case then visual vernacular paints at least 2,000! But no words were needed.

A truly enjoyable evening where physicality, visual vernacular and BSL triumphed over spoken English. I am certainly looking forward to 4Play 2014.

4Play 2013 was at The Park Theatre, London 1st – 4th May


One response to this post.

  1. Thank you! Much appreciated. Charlie


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