Review: A Street Like This at The Fire Station

Review: A Street Like This at The Fire Station

A Street Like This – The Fire Station, Sunderland

29th June 2023

Back at the Fire Station in Sunderland this evening for this very interesting play. The venue looked very different from the last time that I was there with an area partitioned off from the main hall to offer a studio style performance space with the band at one end and the audience down the two sides. 

The set (Imogen Cloȅt) was very imaginative with ordnance survey style decoration depicting a road at the top end of which a very geometrical but certainly colourful sinkhole appears early in the proceedings which forms the majority of the story as to how the appearance of this aberration affects three of the more colourful characters in the street.

Doreen is married to Paul and while she never actually says she is unhappy there is clearly something afoot with her marriage because she keeps a ‘just in case’ case packed in her home. We have a recluse who spends most of her time indoors with newspaper on her windows to ‘keep the nebs out’ and finally a well spoken busybody who thinks he is in charge as lead Neighbourhood watch but in actual fact is longing for the days, which have long since past him by, when he was free, single and liked a rave. The main performers are Alex Elliott, Kylie Ann Ford and Karen Traynor but there is also a community cast of many who make up the other households of the streets.

A Street Like This is a thought-provoking piece but the essential message is one of a community who pull together at times of disaster or need. It is an interesting study in run of the mill ordinary folk and how events can pass them by or inspire them to change. The three main characters are well developed and the audience felt a warmth towards them from the start. 

The lighting (Sam Vivash) was innovative – I particularly like the changes in hue emanating from the sinkhole depending on the character interacting with it. There was a supernatural element to the sinkhole in that the three characters were affected by its manifestation in different physical ways. Some attention does need to be given to the technical side of the show, and particularly the sound, to make sure all the dialogue is heard. The script by Alison Carr has some warmth and wit and also some very interesting points to make about community, loneliness and co-operation. 

There are also songs and music (Ross Millard) which is soulful to start with but for me became rather samey as the one act performance ran. I am informed that the songs and the lyrics were suggested by all the cast of the workshops during which the show was developed which makes the community message even more powerful as does the interaction with the audience at the start of the show. I fully anticipate that this production will evolve and develop further with each performance and suggest that it may not be quite complete as a production just yet. 

This production by Unfolding Theatre in association with LightMighty offers a lot in a short period of time and I am sure that a different viewer may have a completely different take on the one I have taken away this evening.

This evening was the premiére of this show and I was delighted to be in the capacity audience to share this lovely and interesting voyage of discovery and I wish the cast, crewand creatives all the very best as they take it out on tour around the region. 

– Stephen Stokoe

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