Breathe Out Theatre
Greenside @ Infirmary Street
Deep in the stormy and dark depthy of the winter of 1823, a woman named Helen writes letter after letter to her husband.
She is grafting hard on their farm, while he has taken work far off in the city of Manchester, deep in the bustle of the factories and industry. While he is away and the seasons creep round, she is learning the land and the trades and crafts that will assist her while growing ever more concerned by his fewer and fewer replies.
Emma Romy-Jones does startling work here as Helen, weaving a beautiful tapestry of a play, evoking all the richness of the English countryside and the plain toil of the men and women who work it. Helen is a warm and naturally endearing character, strong and direct, without ever seeming clichéd.
The staging is minimal but with a few props that show the working of the calender as Helen works on the farm and sows seed for the coming year.
The sound design is also well constructed, with the pastoral sweetness of the farm contrasting harshly with the rough mechanical whumps and bangs of the city giving an atmosphere that is compelling as well as immersive.
In short, it's an excellent play and a warmly enriching experience.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan