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The Best Thing at Lichfield Garrick - Review

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
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Worldless Production Uses Masks To Convey Moving Story
Who would have thought that a play with no dialogue whatsoever could convey such deep emotions. Well, all I can say is, you haven't had the enjoyment of seeing the amazing Vamos Theatre in action. As incredible as it sounds, not a single word is spoken during 'The Best Thing', which tells the story of a teenage girl at the height of the 'swinging sixties' in Britain.

The Best Thing
Follow the story of 17-year-old Susan in The Best Thing (credit Graeme Braidwood)

Vamos Theatre are described as the UK's leading full mask theatre company so, instead of a script, we get actors miming their parts with the help of extremely expressive masks that also help convey the age of the wearer. As a result, it was easy to follow the story during its performance at the Lichfield Garrick theatre on July 1 as it jumped between 1966 and 2010. We also get a musical soundtrack, including Susan listening to Lulu's 'Shout' and her dad playing his operatic favourites.

The Best Thing
Poster for The Best Thing

The Best Thing', which has been produced by Vamos in a joint commission with the London International Mime Festival, follows the story of 17-year-old Susan who finds herself caught up in the middle of the 1960s sexual revolution. As a result her feelings end up becoming caught between the lustful approaches of her boyfriend and her understandably protective dad.

The Best Thing
Brilliant use of masks by Vamos Theatre

The result is an extremely poignant and moving production with a couple of real tear-jerker moments. Although, on occasion, you were wishing for the characters to say something, none of the raw emotion was lost, particularly during the emotive final scene between Susan's dad and the mystery woman you encounter in 2010. I would love to say more about the story but you really need to see it for yourself without me spoiling it for you.

Lichfield Garrick Theatre
Lichfield Garrick hosted The Best Thing on July 1 and 2

Despite the over-riding sense of poignancy there are also magical moments of comedy in this wordless production such as the scene in the hairdressers when Susan takes on a 60s bob style and during her romantic encounter with her boyfriend as he tries to watch the 1966 World Cup Final. The Best Thing is essentially about morals, sexual freedom and the repercussions that can follow. It is described as suitable for ages 12 and upwards and, certainly, there was a mixed audience at Lichfield Garrick of youngsters and people who probably experienced the 60s first hand.

Rating: 9/10
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Why? Innovation On A Grand Scale From Mask Theatre Company
When: 1-2 July 2016
Phone: 01543 412121
Where: Lichfield Garrick, Castle Dyke, Lichfield WS13 6HR
Cost: 13 adults, 13 students
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by Tony Collins on 12/06/2016
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