“I laughed, cried and was quite simply blown away by the talent on stage”

Wrong Tree’s Synthesise is an absolute whirlwind of a play. In under an hour we are taken on an intimate journey through the five players’ experience on a sinister drug trial. I laughed, cried and was quite simply blown away by the talent on stage.

The show blended physical theatre and music with periods of naturalistic acting in between. The whole show seemed intricately choregraphed, even in the sections that didn’t involve dance every movement felt deliberate and planned. The use of dance sequences very smartly enhanced some of the plays most emotional moments. Yes, in places the choreo wasn’t perfectly in synch, but this did little to detract from the piece as a whole. 

The character work in the play was excellent. Despite the fact much of the wider context of the piece is kept deliberately vague, I really felt like I got to know the characters in the short time they were onstage. Nancy Meakin’s Katya and Lola Stakenburg’s Marianne had incredible chemistry as mother and daughter, and gave, what was for me, the most powerful moment of the play during their argument sequence. While Lola’s projection could be improved upon, she brought a passionate authenticity to the character.

Lali Rydderch’s Judith was hilarious from the moment she entered the waiting room. I want to particularly commend her and the team for not turning her into a caricature which could have easily happened, and instead producing an emotionally well-rounded performance. Commendation must be given to her flute playing as well! Aurora Corrado was the backbone of the show as Isla, a cocky young women who’s been through the trial several times now. Her monologue at the end was electrifying.

Which brings me to Hannah Lydon, as Alice. For me, she was the standout of the show and occasionally I found myself unable to take my eyes of her. Her dance ability shone through, and her character was believable and incredibly well crafted. She is definitely one to watch.

The music of the show, sound designed by Josh Powell, brought it all together. The use of disharmonies and changes in volume really built up the discomfort of the piece as we start to realise the drug trial has more sinister connotations. The tech was immaculate, I can’t think of anything to critique about the lighting, done by Raphael Kris. One standout in particular was the way the characters were silhouetted in one of the movement sequences.

All in all, everyone involved should be very proud. Jess Eaton and Eleanor Bevin have brought a refreshing experience to the Durham Theatre Scene. Watching such a talented all female ensemble showcase their variety of talents was magical, and some of the lines will stick with me for a while, whether its “It didn’t scare me it just made me curious” or “I want you to eat food that makes you shit yourself”!

Synthesize is playing at the Assembly Rooms Theatre 2nd-4th December

By Maddie Hurley

Photo credit: Wrong Tree