People, Places & Things, playing at the Wyndham's Theatre until the 4th June 2016, is a stylistic, flawlessly-performed production that exceeded my expectations. Whilst fairly intense, a well-balanced touch of humour stopped the show from being overbearing, creating an overall enjoyable piece of theatre.
The play follows the story of Emma, a former actress whose drug and alcohol addiction has become dangerously out of control. When she is made to go to rehab, she struggles to accept the program and her relationships between the other people there fluctuate and intensify. As we get to know Emma, seeing the show very much through her eyes, her journey through rehab spirals to a low.
People, Places & Things at the Wyndham's Theatre
The show, presented through the view-point of Emma (our protagonist), was engaging from start to finish. When Emma passed out, there were black-outs on stage; when she hallucinated, the hallucination was acted out on stage. This style of performance meant that the audience was completely immersed within the production.
The plot of the show was unpredictable, and certainly kept me on the edge of me seat. It would have been easy to resolve the show in one of two dramatic ways: total tragedy, or complete resolution. Happily, the end was more subtle than this.
The pace of People, Places & Things was generally good. At times, it dropped a little – there were some scenes that could have perhaps been shortened – but, on the whole, it was fairly well-paced.
Playing the leading role of Emma, Denise Gough was absolutely superb. She was fantastically convincing; everything that she did was filled with the complex and subtle mind-set of Emma so that, by the end of the show, I felt like I had met Emma, and had come to know a very real person.
The rest of the cast were hugely overshadowed by Denise Gough, but they were all very strong. Barbara Marten in particular, playing the role of Emma's therapist, doctor and mother, was a notably strong cast member. Equally, Alistair Cope played a well-balanced, compelling Foster. None of the characters were over-played; suffice to say, it was a flawlessly cast production.
With a classic all-white, clinical looking set and intrusive lighting, People, Places And Things followed in the style of productions such as Oresteia and 1984. Whilst this could have come across as a little clichéd, there were enough well thought-through details to make the staging of People, Places & Things sufficiently impressive for a West End show.
As I have already mentioned, the set-up of the staging reflected Emma's mind-set in a way that was extremely engaging. This was the case with every aspect of the staging, and the details came together well.
Would Most People Enjoy It? ★★
This is a fairly intense production. It is an extremely impressive show, but might not be for everybody. If you are looking for something that it unique, clever and well-performed, then you will enjoy People, Places & Things. If, however, you are looking for a more traditional tragedy, or a light evening's entertainment, it would probably be best to see another show.
That "Wow" Factor: ★★★
This is a very clever, interesting show. It is certainly unique, and extremely thought-provoking.
People, Places & Things leaves you feeling a little drained, but certainly not depressed. The more grounded emotional moments in the show meant that I didn't leave the show feeling as though I had had a stylistic overdose; at the same time, the thought-provoking nature of the show meant that I couldn't quite walk away from the theatre and leave the story behind.
All in all, I was impressed by People, Places & Things. It is always refreshing to see something unusual, and I couldn't have been more impressed by the performances of the cast involved. Catch People, Places & Things at the Wyndham's Theatre before it closes on the 4th June.
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