Latest Review – People, Places & Things (HOME, Manchester) (UK Tour)

Photo by Johan Persson


HOME, Manchester

Until Saturday 7th October, 2017

A co-production between the National Theatre and the ever-ambitious Headlong, Duncan MacMillan’s hugely-acclaimed People, Places & Things offers a powerful and stimulating look at the struggles of addiction, recovery and surviving in a complex and confusing modern world.

Intelligently co-directed by Headlong Artistic Director Jeremy Herrin and Holly Race Roughan, People, Places & Things unsettles viewers from the off, cleverly catching its audience off guard as it engulfs them in its immersive and disorienting world.

As he demonstrated with 1984 and City of Glass, MacMillan once again thrives on the blurring of fiction and reality as his central character spirals frantically through a whirlwind of identity, disfunction and unsettling terror.

Having premiered in the National Theatre’s intimate Dorfman Theatre (formerly the Cottesloe Theatre), the smallest of their three auditoria, HOME feels like the perfect venue to host such an affecting and confining play, restoring the sense of claustrophobia lost in the shows subsequent West End transfer.

Structurally it has a lot in common with another worldwide National Theatre hit, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, with its fluid staging, familiar minimalist, space-saving Bunny Christie set design and the way it visualises the complexities and issues stirring within the mind of its central character, though as difficult as Curious Incident can be, People, Places & Things is certainly a much darker beast.

Stepping into the daunting, Olivier Award-winning shoes of Denise Gough, Lisa Dwyer Hogg does excellent work as protagonist Emma, or Nina? or Sarah? (who knows?); the self-destructive young actress who checks herself into a rehabilitation centre to save herself from the chaos of modern life. Scared and vulnerable, her scepticism puts her at risk of relapsing into the life she so desperately needs to escape, but first she needs to admit she has a problem and start telling the truth, all the while slowly losing her grip on reality.

MacMillan does a superb job at plumbing the depths of addiction and confronting a number of difficult themes, though perhaps its strongest and most effective attribute is the way it plays with the mind of the viewer.

Come the curtain we have followed Emma’s journey through some of the darkest and most soul-baring moments of her life … or have we? Has it all been a mere act powerfully conveyed by a brilliant actress?

Through rhythmic scene transitions, bold changes of pace and a relentless approach, MacMillan, Herrin and Roughan leave things fully open to interpretation, and its all the better for it.

Running Time: 2 hours and 30-minutes (approx.), including one 20-minute interval.

Final Performance at the HOME, Manchester: Saturday 7th October, 2017

For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.

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