Alli is a freelance writer and blogger who has contributed to the lifestyle sections of publications including The Guardian and The Telegraph. She regularly researches and writes articles for a local newspaper and happily reviews products and events
Zero - the true grit of coping with suicide
From the outside, the Eagle Inn on Collier Street in Salford looks like your average back street boozer, but the small cottage, which sits snugly at its side, is actually, as I discovered, a treasure chest of entertainment.
Being more of a wine bar girl myself, scuttling through the narrow corridors of the Eagle Inn filled me with a little apprehension and disquiet regarding what I was about to see, but as soon as I crossed into the tiny theatre the friendliness of the Just Talk Theatre Company immediately put me at ease.
This was my first experience with the Just talk Theatre Company and I sincerely hope that it will not be my last. Established in 2012, the forefront of the groups work is 'the power of the unsaid' and their latest play Zero is definitely an example of their upfront ability to say out loud what the rest of us may only ponder alone in our minds.
Zero addresses the often unmentionable subject of suicide and it doesn't just skirt the subject. Two siblings arrange to meet and air their somewhat opposing, personal views and reactions to the tragedy of the suicide within their family.
The script is fierce, blunt and refreshingly accurate. The characters are played by actors who remain clear and strong within their controversy, despite the sensitive and emotive nature of their speech.
The on-stage relationship of the actors is of such professionalism that they effortlessly demonstrate the common love / hate relationship that only siblings appear truly capable of. And the fact that this is a relationship that many of us can easily relate to, draws you into the play almost immediately, as you start to recognise traits of your own.
The intimacy of the theatre and the starkness of the scene add to the production. It's blatancy channels all of your senses into the play's raw emotion leaving nothing to distract you from the characters' pain.
Helen is excellently played by Rosemary Terry and so strong and obvious is her emotion that, sitting in the front row, I frequently found myself sensing that I was intruding upon her grief; exploiting her disaster with my presence.
Eddie, played by Dean Gregory, presents himself as more easy-going. His initial boyish charm is in sharp contrast to the connotation of the sibling's meeting and it is as the play progresses that Eddie's character allows Dean to show the extent of his acting ability.
The play has been very ingeniously written by Robin Lyons to allow the 2 main characters to scale a full range of emotions. The result being that I would doubt any member of the audience would be unable to identify with at least one. Then as you ingeniously become immersed in Helen and Eddie's vulnerabilities, anger and sadness; Tim makes an entrance.
Tim played by Edd Bower, has a presence that fills the stage immediately and just when you thought you had covered every angle of the grief surrounding the tragedy of suicide, he pulls you out of one dimension and into another.
Zero is 60 minutes long and has no interval. And although the seats could possibly be a little kinder to the bottom, an interval would be wrong within such an intense production. The play engrosses you with such command that I suspect any break would only be spent in silence and speculation anyway. Robin's ability to flip from one angle of a status quo to another, coupled with the intensity of the actors, ensures that the minutes pass by unnoticed and as I emerged from the back street boozer, little over an hour since I had first experienced its stale and slightly, in my opinion, intimidating mien, I think I may have felt just how Alice in Wonderland did as she emerged her dream.
Sam Moran, the director, describes Just Talk Theatre Company as 'taking a text, tearing it apart and rebuilding what is most important'. It is only now, having experienced Zero that I truly understand what he means.
Zero is showing from 29th – 31st March 2016. Tickets and information about other productions are available through the website www.justtalktheatre.co.uk