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Dissociation – The Lowry, Salford

Writer/Director: Luke Bailey

Reviewer: Iain Sykes

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

Dissociation, the latest play from writer/director Luke Bailey, debuts in the Lowry Studio. Set in a time of rising tension, it explores the life of aspiring musician, Talloach, and his attempts to rebuild his life after his release from a young offenders institution where he was sentenced after taking the heat for the rest of his crew.

Powerfully written and performed from the outset, Dissociation is the sort of play that not only hits the audience straight between the eyes but knocks them out and completely pulls them into the action. Talloach is vividly brought to life by an amazing actor in Tachia Newall. His character is a complex mix of contradictions. On the surface, he’s the guy who just wants to make music, whilst putting up the tough man facade to protect himself from his own personal past. Bailey’s deft writing combined with Newall’s vivid performance turn Talloach into much more than this mere stereotype. The quieter scenes with his counsellor totally draw the audience’s attention and leave everybody longing for him to achieve all his dreams.

While Talloach is the focus of the play, his foils need to be equally as effective to make the piece really come together and here indeed they do. Venice (Errol Smith), the self appointed leader of the pack is a toothpick chewing ball of volatile menace while Yussuf M’rabty and Steven Hamill provide decent back up in the South Manchester Guerrillas. Holliday Grainger produces an emotional performance as Talloach’s housemate, veering from innocent bravado to terrified victim in the blink of an eye and is yet another on stage presence who manages to grab the audience in her quieter and more understated moments.

The major question the play asks is how much social mobility is available to those of ambition from less privileged backgrounds, or rather how much is allowed from those above. A character has to pull out of college after funding is cut and Talloach, himself has to face some tough decisions to break free of his own background. It’s credit to Bailey’s writing and the performers that this play never feels like a political statement but more a personal journey of hope that leaves you rooting for the characters.

The final few scenes however, which arrive at breakneck speed against a background of violence and strobe lighting, maybe didn’t feel as effective as they could have. There just seemed something a little rough around the edges of the direction, compared to the rest of the play but, if tightened up, this play with its strong cast and great writing is a powerful, thought provoking piece of theatre.

Runs until 30th January

About The Public Reviews

The Public Reviews was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.
  • Pat Clarke

    A brilliant piece of writing that keeps the audience riveted and rooting for main protagonist, Talloach (superbly played by Tachia Newall) with the help a great young cast. Veering from gritty realism, through comedy to high-tension drama, the story is depairingly believable (though hope is never quite out of reach) and the characters absolutely true to life.

    There were laughs a-plenty and some genuine tears. I wanted to come back and see it a second time, but it was sold out …say no more!

  • Mike Abram

    The play that stays…with me at least. I saw this on the opening night (Monday 28th Jan) and I am still finding myself revisiting scenes, conversations and emotions a week later.

    There were a number of very powerful performances from the cast, the writing had the audience gasping, laughing and even clapping between many of the very quick scene changes. In fact a couple of the scenes did not elicit applause, but this was due to the power of the writing and performances that left the audience so emotionally involved and concerned that applause just wasn’t appropriate.

    I only hope this has the chance to be performed to a wider audience.