Review by Julia Pattison: Colder Than Here at Friargate Theatre

The cast were completely convincing in Colder Than Here.
The cast were completely convincing in Colder Than Here.

Play: Colder Than Here

Venue: Friargate Theatre, York

Review by: Julia Pattison

Director Louise Larkinson has always admired playwright Laura Wade’s work and was delighted when Wildgoose Theatre agreed to stage a production of her first published play (2005) Colder Than Here.

Dying is often a taboo subject, but Laura’s script isn’t afraid to alleviate some of the fears we may have about death with her combination of pathos and black humour.

A most thoughtful and sensitive director, Louise obviously worked most co-operatively with her ensemble cast, and the result is a most moving, poignant play, without ever being morbid; quite a feat considering that the play centres round Myra (brilliantly portrayed by Beryl Nairn), wife and mother of two, who has been diagnosed with bone cancer.

The play focuses on the impact that terminal illness can have on those close to a dying person, but is also about the relationship of siblings- Harriet (Sophie Buckley) and Jenna (Claire Morley)and the dynamics between an older and younger sister.

From the very beginning of the play you were drawn into the family’s world with Gill Dickers’s superb violin playing behind gauze tugging at the heart strings, setting the scene along with Sara Burns’s carefully considered Lighting and set design.

The tune Gill played during the production was Michael’s Mazurka, and for good reason held a special place in the hearts of the cast and creatives (for more information: http://www.michaelswood.co.uk/).

The cast were completely convincing as this family in turmoil; you loved to hate Alec (wonderfully portrayed by John Lister) at first for his seemingly complete indifference to his wife’s mental and physical anguish. Slowly but surely it emerged that he wasn’t as cold towards his wife as first appeared – just very scared.

Sophie and Claire were outstanding in their portrayals of sisters Harriet and Jenna; both had a journey of change thrust upon them, and they ensured that we, in the audience were with them with every tentative step.

Indeed cast and audience were bound together throughout the ninety minute emotional journey, which ended with a note of hope; slumber and stars, and a smile of contentment on Myra’s face.