Writer: Joanna Carrick
Director: Joanna Carrick
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
The Public Reviews Rating:
For sixteen year old Sammy – her life looks promising. About to leave school, an adoring boyfriend and a real musical talent – Sammy’s future looks bright. One simple action though has devastating consequences.
Sammy’s experimentation with cannabis soon sends her down a much darker path, following in the footsteps of older sister Issi. With Issi’s boyfriend, Connor, supplying both sisters it’s a difficult environment for the impressionable teenager. We follow Sammy’s story in reverse chronology, so although we know the outcome from the outset, the interest lies in discovering how we ended up there.
Although aimed to tour schools and colleges, Joanna Carrick’s production provides plenty to stimulate thought for audiences of all ages. Never preaching, it packs considerable power into its brief 40 minute run. Sammy’s plight is played out with brutal honesty and openness but never judges.
Carrick’s script incorporates true life experiences of addicts and the production process involves many who have overcome drug issues themselves. The post show discussion, a key part of the process for the educational brief of the project, is almost as moving as the play itself, the company talking both eloquently and honestly about the issues they have overcome.
There are impressive performances throughout the company. Chloe Nicholson’s Sammy is utterly convincing as the young woman who so easily slips into substance abuse, her self-justification scarily resonant. Adrian Banks as Barney, the sole character clear of drugs, gives us perhaps the hook into the piece, the outsider looking in and trying to understand the rollercoaster of events.
Rachel Clarke and Steve Whyte’s Issi and Connor could so easily be seen as the villains of the piece, the addicts who lure Sammy into the world of drugs but their own despair and personal issues provoke thoughts of what really is the root cause here. Clarke and Whyte both reveal their own experience of substance abuse in the post-show discussion but, even without that knowledge they are performances of total conviction.
Educational plays can sometimes fall into the trap of ‘dumbing down’ issues or turning the subject into a glorified lecture but here there is recognition that this is a multi-layered problem and that there’s no one answer fits all solution. The production pulls no punches on the sheer horror of drug addiction but while the devastation is clear, we never blame any of the characters for their plight.
Many people see drug addiction as a hidden problem, something that takes place in somebody else’s life. In reality it’s an issue that can strike anywhere and to anyone. This is a remarkable, thought-provoking play that will open everyone’s eyes to the scarily small step it takes to lead to addiction.