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Beyond The 4th Wall – The Lowry, Salford

Writer: Cathy Crabb

Director: Tom Hogan

Reviewer: Helen Jones

[rating:4]

Beyond the 4th WallFor the last 13 years Loud and Proud Arts have been out to prove that anyone can achieve great things, and this production is proof that they have succeeded.

The fourth wall is the invisible barrier between the performers and the audience in a theatrical situation. Writer Cathy Crabb has taken this definition and bent it to create a physical barrier between ideal and imperfect.

The residents of the cul-de-sac are protected from the outside world ‘beyound the fourth wall’. OUt there is cruelty, dissention and segregation, within the cul-de-sac there is only kindness, consideration and love. But is this really as idealistic as it sounds? In fact the ‘Ablers’ have rules which all the residents have to comply with and when dissention does start to emerge it is quickly diverted with giggles.

Sarah (Kelly Hoye) brings her son to the cul-de-sac as she fears he will never be treated with respect in the outside world. Taylor as a child is portrayed by a puppet, with Aisling Leyne creating emotion and feeling in all the puppet’s movement. Inside the cul-de-sac they are cared for and Sarah becomes one of the Ablers. If people have questions they can take them to the Ablers if they can get past Leonard, who guards the way with a cheerful efficiency. Non dangerous ideas are given the chance to shine at the daily meetings, while these times also allow the Ablers to monitor their resident’s placid state.

Once Taylor has grown to a young man, he becomes unsettled about the protection offered by the cul-de-sac as he has vague memories of the outside world. He takes his thoughts to Abler 3, but they are initially dismissed, however Taylor is not to be put off so easily. In the end he convinces the Ablers to let him and two of his friends Gordon and Katie set out beyond the fourth wall for a week to find out what the world out there is really like. The three return with stories of how bad the world out there is, but how they feel it could be changed and that is is worth being out there beyond the fourth wall.

The seventeen strong cast involved are all amazing at what they do. The four ablers played by Janet Charlesworth, Jenny Stott, Danielle Maycox and Kelly Hoye are suitably mysterious in their actions away from the sight of the residents while leading the ‘happiness’ levels in daily meetings.

The three young explorers Nick Prince (Taylor), Chrissy Jones (Katie) and Chris Jackson (Gordon) all relish their rôles as well. The rest of the cast are all excellent in their performances with the lovely Kath Godfrey and the engaging Michael Gleave especially strong.

Loud and Proud Arts are determined to show the world that there are no barriers to achievement, in fact they show that they can achieve much much more than most. If you get the chance, this is a company that all theatre goers should see.

Reviewed on 23rd April

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One comment

  1. Jeanna Godfrey

    An easy-going,yet strong, production played with such great energy. The admirable cast brought such fun to the stage with it’s own thought-provoking message.