What Once Was Ours (5th October 2017, Half Moon Theatre)

Exposing and questioning young people's perceptions of immigration and Brexit in the microcosm of a brother and sister's relationship, Zest and Half Moon have developed a fantastic production that gets to the heart and soul of the issues for an audience of young people, without ever feeling patronising or overwhelming.

The audience are invited into a 'playground', a colourful, angular space that becomes Katie's home. The narrative follows Callum (Jaz Hutchins) as he arrives unannounced to his father's house whom he hasn't seen in many years. He is instead confronted by his half-sister Katie (Pippa Beckwith), whose exceedingly challenging, xenophobic views that she has absorbed from her parents isolate him even further from the half-family that have rejected him. Zest's creative process infiltrates their production, as the voice of young interviewees are played like thoughts around the room, sharing insights into their experiences and understandings (or lack thereof) of other cultures and political opinions.

The piece is particularly thought-provoking, having been lucky enough to be cocooned in a circle of like-minded people for my entire life, as it illustrates the hostility and anger that sadly is still routed in the wrong direction in our society. The immersive experience intensifies the experience, as the views surround and encompass the audience. This is particularly effective when Callum reveals his devastating situation, as although the audience more than likely have guessed the truth, as you stand/sit in the middle of the 'lounge' it feels as if hearing horrific news from a friend. The emotional impact is raw, and by focusing on the smaller scale of one life, it allows a younger audience to empathise without forcing the large scale of trauma from social isolation to overwhelm them. In truth, Jaz Hutchins and Pippa Beckworth cannot be commended highly enough for their performance, with exceptional development of credible young siblings whose situations divide yet connect them simultaneously. The fluidity of movement and direction also allows the experience to feel natural in a space that could be alienating, as the performers adapt to the audience and likewise.

In conclusion, Zest and Half Moon have created an essential message for the current situation that our society finds itself in, and a slick production that promises to be an profusely successful tour.


1 & 2. https://zesttheatre.com/whatonce/

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