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Eunoia (Group Two)

Sophie White, Harriet Norris and others.
Chickenshed
Chickenshed

Never Have I Ever Credit: Antonia Jater
Ghosts Credit: Daniel Beacock

The schedule for Group Two of the Eunoia project was COVID disrupted, but this performance begins with two of its intended plays, followed by three that have already been seen in Group One.

The bedroom in Sophie White’s play Never Have I Ever looks empty. Archie (Callum Banks) heads for it to escape the people in the party, the people he doesn't know, because he thinks it's empty. The friend who dragged him to the party has gone and he is sure that he will cry. He thinks no one will see him cry in that empty room and then he can head off home. Except the room isn't empty.

Beneath that dishevelled mass of clothes on the bed is Cat (Stevie Shannon), possibly sleeping off too much alcohol. Sure enough, Archie’s arrival disturbs her slumbers. Lively and clearly drunk, she is immediately chatting with him in the dark and for a short time imagines he is someone else, someone she knows. Since they are already chatting, she sees no reason to stop chatting when she realises her mistake.

He would like to be left alone or to just leave the room, but she insists on talking, especially when she spots that he has been crying. When simply asking him what’s up gets her nowhere, she tries a game of Never Have I Ever which gets closer to the source of his distress. There is also her quirky version of a therapy session and a bit of dancing.

It’s a gentle, upbeat, occasionally funny play that illustrates the way even strangers can give each other a sense of hope. You might even get to know why Cat was hidden away in this empty bedroom.

There is a tender sadness to the play Ghosts by Harriet Norris. Chloe (Tilly Morton) appears to be sitting alone in a darkened room, her words spoken to perhaps no one, telling of her anxiety and isolation.

Age seventeen, she lives in a small community and travels a long distance to a school where she has not yet been able to make friends. She has lost people close to her. All this makes her feel “I’m the only real person in a town of ghosts.” She says that “I might as well be a ghost.”

But there is another figure in the room, a figure that may be a relative, someone she feels close to. This figure, perhaps her aunt Martha (Belinda McGuirk), physically begins to mirror her movements, saying encouragingly that “I’m always with you.”

There is a lyrical warmth to this script spoken movingly by its actors. There is a yearning in Chloe’s words for a connection with others and an intimation in the performance that such a connection is possible.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna