I Think We Are Alone has been produced as part of a celebration for the 25th anniversary of noted British physical theatre company, Frantic Assembly, and brings the best of their noted movement direction, aesthetics and hard-hitting material to the stage. Written by Sally Abbott, it is an exploration of the separations that mount between loved ones due to emotional trauma.
The play delves deep into the psyche of its six characters through intimate address of the audience (although the frequent monologues walk the line of overuse) reminiscent of the writing within their previous production of Andrew Bovell’s Things I Know to be True. Unlike the prior, however, this text provides an ample helping of humour in very needed moments of levity within what could have suffocated its audience and characters with darkness.
The production’s set (designed by Morgan Large) and lighting (by Paul Keogan) appropriately reflect the themes of separation within the story and create memorable images and emotional effects that are the highlight of the production. The set is composed of four large frames filled with distorted glass. Depending on the illumination within and surrounding them, actors behind these frames have varying levels of visibility which have important aesthetic and symbolic effects throughout the monologues and scenes, defining relationships between key characters. A clever and inspired way to prevent scenes from becoming static visually, they become windows, walls, and even a bed, and they effectively enhance the production’s wider messages
At the heart of this performance is a talented cast whose naturalistic performances bring heart and humanity into the stories they portray. Especially engaging are sisters Clare (Polly Frame) and Ange (Charlotte Bate) whose shared childhood trauma creates an impenetrable rift between them as they struggle with emotional issues in its wake. The rest of the characters’ storylines feel somewhat less entwined and significant compared to that of the sisters, but the performers who inhabit them are equally impressive.
Simone Saunders provides stand-out comic relief and poignancy as Bex, a cancer patient struggling to reconcile her continued treatment with her relationship to her husband and young sons. Chizzy Akudolu is warm and likeable as Josie, and Caleb Roberts sympathetic and relatable, as her university-aged son, Manny. Finally, Andrew Turner as taxi driver, Graham, is down-to-earth and soothingly human, and though his storyline seems the least connected with his onstage peers, when it does link with the others, it is in a twist that is both tragic and satisfying, one of the most successful moments within Abbott’s script.
Addressing tragic issues with a light hand is no easy feat, and the team behind I Think We Are Alone accomplishes it tastefully. Although not without its dry and emotionally draining moments, it is nevertheless accessible to audience members of all ages,9 for fans of Frantic Assembly and newcomers alike.
PHOTOS: Tristram Kenton