Review: 10:31, MCR    ⭐⭐⭐

THEATRE

10:31, MCR    

The Space on the Mile 14:10

Aug 15-17

⭐⭐⭐ (3 stars)

This drama focuses on the terrible event at Manchester Arena on 22nd May 2017  – an explosion that occurred at 10.31 pm, and which took the lives of a substantial number of people, and injured many more, and left many thousands who were present or were family and friends with traumatic and nightmarish memories.
This is a very big subject to take on, with many ramifications, many causes and consequences. Amongst the multitude of voices and stories, we are here asked to focus on Girl One and her attempt to navigate her experiences, feelings and reactions. She has two other cast members to support her. Megan Sharman becomes this central character. She is a recent graduate of the University of Essex. She expresses a range of emotions effectively, and is at times the oldest child managing the others. These are Ciaran Forde and Rio Montana Topley.
The show involves a mixture of movement, dance and drama. No set; the three actors have only themselves to create place, context and atmosphere. They have set themselves a very big challenge given the subject matter.
The action moves between different periods of the day in question, May 22nd. The cast become children playing, to good effect. There is a strong section where the Home Secretary is confronted in 2010, in a way that is shown to be relevant. We are shown the awful consequences for individuals.
 However, I was expecting something with more bite. The effect of this show is curiously muted given the nature of the subject. There are times when the score, rather light for the context, makes some lines not too easy to follow. The audience needs to be fairly sophisticated in following the changes of place and character. Eventually, i found myself confronted by bees; I have no idea why, and it only served to remind me that I have not seen bees since I left my garden to come to Edinburgh. I am sure I would not have been thus distracted had there been some build up to the bees. And then we have the conclusion.
I have no doubt that these are three good and dedicated young actors, who are extremely keen to make some important points, and their charity involvement is to be applauded. And this play did set the event in some kind of context, and provoked some thoughts about a very violent event that can be almost forgotten in the cascade of events in our troubled times. Yet I have to say that I was disappointed by this production.
TONY CHALLIS