Unearthed Review for Trowbridge Arts

on Sunday, 27 March 2016. Posted in Events

Created by Folio Theatre and directed by Kim Pearce, Unearthed is the witty and poignant story of twins Ben and Eliza, who, following the death of their father after a long illness, are brought back together from their very separate lives for the funeral. Upon the reading of their fathers will, they discover that  their father has added a codicil, and neither of them will get a penny of the money left to them until they fulfil all of it's nonsensical conditions. Upon reading the list Eliza exclaims, “Number 7 looks like it’s written in code and I’m pretty sure number 5 is illegal. Number four is physically impossible”.

The rest of the play concerns their embarrassed and often hilarious attempts at completing the incomprehensible list. From forcing themselves to listen to three consequtive pink floyd albums, to performing an S Club 7 dance rountine on their dead mothers grave, the demands seem to get crazier and crazier.  Along the way there are revelations of long concealed secrets, on a journey that ultimately heals the rift between the two siblings.

When developing the work, Folio Theatre worked in conjunction with The Stroke Association and Carers Trust UK and the issues surrounding the twins fathers long illness are dealt with sensitively and honestly. The audience is left in no doubt that the father had been a good and loving man but the realities of a life given over to caring for another are clear. The careful balance between the two makes for a moving performance which raises awareness for both charities.

Despite the heavy subject matter the play is both heart-warming and funny from beginning to end. Lizzie Stables, best known for her role as Chloe on The Inbetweeners, leads the company as Eliza, and approaches the role with style and strength. This is her second year on the tour and her chemistry with the other actors is clear to anyone watching.

Although Lizzie's performance is strong and engaging, there isn't a moment where Shaun McKee, the actor who plays her brother Ben, is overshadowed. Ben's life seems to be spiralling out of his control from the open of the play. While his sister has been living the high life in Paris, Ben finds himself left to look after his father and to deal with the funereal arrangements, all with a failing career and a girlfriend he isn't sure about who wants to have a baby. Despite the demands of the role however, Shaun delivers a shining performance, bringing the audience to the brink of tears in one breath and to hysterics in the next.

The old court room of the Trowbridge Town Hall was a fantastic setting for the performance. Sat in the gallery, the audience had a very real sense of looking down into a private world. Despite the minimalism of the set, which consists of little more than a few boxes and a carpet, heads turn when the actors point out imaginary figures and landmarks in the distance. Ultimately, the evening was clearly enjoyed by all, and the audience left smiling.

The Unearthed tour will culminate on the 2nd of April, in the Hull Truck Studio. Please visit https://www.stroke.org.uk/ to find out more about the wonderful and lifechanging work of The Stroke Association and https://www.carers.org/ for information about Carers Trust UK.

Review by Adele Matterface