Spine – Soho Theatre

IMG_3680.JPGClara Brennan’s Spine is playing at Soho Theatre from 21st October – 2nd November following it’s success sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Spine is a touching, delicately multi-layered monologue starring Rosie Wyatt. We meet Amy, a young, disillusioned, fiery teenager who has had a troublesome past and hit hard times and definitely has a ‘chip on her shoulder’. Amy from Willesden has led a challenging life, met the wrong men, done some pretty horrendous things and made some bad choices. Then she meets Glenda, a frail old East End widow pensioner who lives alone in a world of stolen library books.

The crux of this well told tale lies in the meeting of proud historic tradition (through Glenda) meeting the new world of the internet age and consumerism, portrayed through Amy.

Wyatt’s characterization of Amy is both genuine and heartfelt with a real sense of connectedness to her roots and history. She delivers a heart touching performance of Amy and switches character into Glenda effortlessly and with conviction. The spectrum of emotions portrayed and topics covered so flawlessly is testament to Wyatts skills as an actress. There were moments of loss of accents as Wyatt switched between Amy and Glenda but this didn’t detract from the pace or poignancy of the piece.

This is a very moving production with grit and wit and a real social/political message that is driven home in a very succinct and subtle manner. Through the brashness of Wyatts performance as Amy and tender and vulnerable approach to the character of Glenda we are left really contemplating the messages . . . I left thinking about how much I used to enjoy reading, how as a child we would visit the library and borrow books to expand our knowledge and then hit on the sad realization that I haven’t visited a library or a book store in years and that we are losing an essential part of our heritage and history.

After the performance I over heard people mentioning that they were moved and taken with the production not really knowing what to expect and I felt myself smiling as this production really challenged the audience and left people talking about it in a very thought provoking way.

Upon reflecting of this piece I am still very moved by the topics and enjoyed this one-woman tour de force immensely. Although a little long in places I think this would be a fantastic production to tour to schools as an educational piece. This production would grab their attention and drive the message in a contemporary and engaging way that would really benefit a younger audience.

I would highly recommend getting along to the Soho Theatre and be prepared to have your ‘Spine’ tingled by this wonderfully modern, compassionate story.

Reviewed by Matthew Wren

Photo: Richard Davenport

Spine is playing at the Soho Theatre until 2 November 2014.