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Chasing Shadows

Tuesday, 27 September, 2011

Accomplished and intelligent

The stage is empty, except for three chairs, and is lit with dark blue lighting.  There are four people with their backs facing out reading papers.  They are all wearing black t-shirts and leggings (ladies) or trousers (men) and are barefooted.  A man comes in playing the mouth organ.  The background music is expressive and throbbing like it is alive.  Those reading the papers open and close them in succession to the music.  It is a powerful and beautiful start to an intriguing story.

The following narrative unfolds telling the story of a man, Edward Allen, and his dad.  Edward Allen and Tourettte’s Syndrome.  Edward Allen and the shadows he chases, shadows of the past present and which will determine if there will be any similar shadows in the future.

This performance is stunning and intelligent.  It looks at the relationship of a man and how he deals with normal life and all it brings with the addition of having Tourette’s Syndrome and how he deals with this also.  Edward Allen goes about his life on London transport, talking to women and dealing with his own mind and various thoughts and fears he has.  He talks to the people he meets then cuts away as the scene freezes and vocalises his thoughts to himself or to the world outside.

Kadeem Dunning is masterful as Edward Allen.  He plays the main character well, confident, eloquent, passionate, vulnerable and humorous.  The emotions are wide and varied.  He commands the stage and does it so naturally.  He uses the mouth organ expertly to show the ‘ticks’ of the Tourette’s Syndrome.  His facial expressions and movement of his body have been considered well.  The attention follows him.  The heart yearns for his character to do well out of all of this, to be ok and stay strong.  His projection is impressive.  His power is impressive.  His whole performance is.

Darren Privett is great as the dad.  He shows the terror and the anger well and is believable in his portrayal of a man with problems that he allows to manifest physically and verbally.  David Privett is also the choreographer.  A standing ovation is deserved for the choreography.  It is truly beautiful.  It takes the performance to a high level of skill and makes it unique and commanding.  The dance and movement lead the story and the actors to each new scene fluidly.  There is a part where Edward Allen is manipulated like a puppet that is fascinating.  There is another where they all surround Edward Allen and are the voices in his head.  They are animalistic and behave like mad beasts.  The music follows this.  They try to eat Edward, they beat their chests and move in a way that is completely different to anything previously in the performance.  It is a great contrast.

Jade Naime, Rachel Packford and Beth Rudkin play the mum, teacher and Emma respectively.  They are together when playing as a group in the background enriching the action at the time with movement and sounds.  Then they break out into their various roles and are individual and admirable as their characters and play them well.  It would have been nice if they were utilised more throughout the performance however.

The director Nyasha Chinyoka has produced an accomplished piece here.  There are humorous observations made on public transport that many would relate to such as oyster card time wasting.  Using the mouth organ to show the ‘ticks’ of the Tourette’s Syndrome is ingenious.  Seeing the physicality of it and hearing the sound of it makes one think of how this may impact upon the person and how loud and obtrusive it may seem to others and to the person themselves.  The whole performance is remarkable and must have been hard work to devise.  It has been brought to fruition beautifully.

Kat Gagen’s lighting design complements everything.  Using spotlights for certain moments captivate the performance and focuses the attention is just the right way.  The different lights set the mood and tone.  They are subtle at times and this is perfect.

The music throughout tells the story too.  Sometimes it is mystical, sometimes it dances like the wind, it chimes and it chills.  It is sweet yet damaged, like the relationship between Edward Allen and his dad.  The actors move so well throughout.  It makes one want to dance and join them and learn from them.  It is an excellent use of dance to convey the emotions and various struggles in the story.  There is a nice juxtaposition of the scared Edward Allen versus an angry animal that he has to keep tame inside.  He has so many sides to him.  Edward Allen and his dad are like two positive energies being drawn together and forced apart constantly.  The attraction and repulsion is ongoing.  There is so much tension.  There is even a love story.  Everyone loves a love story and it is a nice one too.

Chasing Shadows deserves to have a long run somewhere where more people can and will enjoy it again and again.  Standing ovation and much applause.

Cast Credits:  Kadeem Dunning – Edward Allen.  Jade Naime – Mum.  Rachel Packford – Teacher.  Darren Privett – Dad.  Beth Rudkin – Emma.

Company Credits:  Director – Nyasha Chinyoka.  Choreographer – Darren Privette.  Stage Manager/Lighting Design – Kat Gagen.

© Chantal Pierre-Packer 2011

Reviewed Friday 26th August 2011 / Camden People’s Theatre

 

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