Kiara Davies enjoys an evening with Wrong Tree Theatre’s devised show about childhood, Away.
Away tells the story of ten-year-old Poppy, a girl lost to the cycle of homelessness but immersed in her own world of childhood daydreams. Directed by Aimee Dickinson and Olivia Swain (with Iz McGrady as Movement Director and Sephie Hotchkies as Assistant Director) it cleverly narrates a hard-hitting issue without leaving the audience feeling too weighed down, and a times, even made me laugh.
The story flows through the eyes of Poppy, as she playfully moves through what the audience comes to realise is her difficult life of being homeless at a young age. She treats herself by using her limited belongings to participate in a number of childhood games, some of which are easily recognisable and others not so much to an audience that is unlikely to ever have been exposed to the grim realities of homelessness. Nevertheless, the notion of escaping away in your own head at times hit a cord with everyone.
The cast worked strongly together, with particular mention needed for Molly Goetzee as Poppy, who flourishes in her character, opening the audience up to a nostalgic reminiscence of their childhood. The chorus also did a superb job of switching through roles and helping to narrate Poppy’s mindset, alongside a compelling use of sound which helped to shuffle the play along.
The venue (the Cassidy Quad at St. Chad’s College) was skilfully used, if one ignored the casual bangs of doors and movement at the bar, that only really can add to the authenticity of student theatre. Fairy lights were cleverly used, creating a pleasant wintery glow, and to once again highlight the childlike nature that the producers were trying to set.
Sadly, my biggest criticism of the show was that it did not completely satisfy the ending of what happened to Poppy. At times the play felt short of any real plot, and instead solely focused on the mentality of the character instead. While it was made clear there had once been some intervention by social services, one can only assume that she fell through the cracks of the system. This is where it becomes worthwhile to note that they have paired with St Chad’s Charity Committee to raise money for Durham Action on single housing within the ticket price, so it is well worth the cost.
Overall, Away does it best to portray a childlike view of what to most is a tough social issue, and through limited props and some wise use of fairy lights, offers an interesting, and somewhat light-hearted, evening for the audience to enjoy.
Away will be playing in the Cassidy Quad, St Chad’s College, on 1st December at 7pm.