As part of the Illuminate Festival based at the New Wimbledon Studio, Folio Productions presents a new play Unearthed, written by Royal Court young playwright Alys Metcalf.
We begin in the intimate setting of a professionally formed studio space, where twins Eliza (Lizzy Stables) and Ben (Jeremy Lloyd) have journeyed up a hill to bury a time capsule to celebrate their 18th birthday. Playfully bickering as brother and sister do, their father takes ill and their lives change forever.
We see them years later, estranged from each other, as they come together to fulfil their father’s wishes in his will. He has instructed that a set of slightly unusual requests are to be carried out in order to receive their inheritance. So Ben and Eliza begin on a journey down memory lane to see if they can rekindle their sibling bond.
Stables brilliantly plays the stubborn sister, minutes older, she has risen through the ranks of a financial firm in Paris and gusts in full of ‘cafe au laits’ and calls from the office. Ben can’t bear it, and resents her escape whilst he had to cope with his father’s illness, he was the dreamer who longed for volcano expeditions that had to be put on hold.
Their journey is told through beautiful snapshots, that flicker from task to task with insights into the past and a few home truths. Poignant memories from Disney’s Bambi play out, that would tug on anyone’s heart strings and heightens the plays sentimentality. Amelia Hankin’s creative cardboard box set, resembles a loft full of keepsakes and trinkets from years of stories, just waiting to be ‘unearthed’.
Stables and Lloyd touchingly carry this production through to it’s unsurprising end, but they are equally supported by the charismatic Simon (Edward Mitchell), an overseer of the will who provides the comic relief against moments of anguish. His suave, Johnny Depp-esque manner was a joy to watch, although I couldn’t help feel there was going to be a twist to his character that never surfaced. Furthermore Alana Ramsey as Daisy, Ben’s long suffering wife, has great onstage chemistry with Lloyd and provided the foundations holding this family together.
Unearthed is a small-scale theatre production at it’s best. With sparkling talent to watch out for, I’m sure it won’t be the last we hear of Folio Productions. This heart-warming tale was the perfect tonic to bank holiday blues, where at times it could have induced a tear, instead I came away feeling more uplifted than sad.
Reviewed by Becky Usher< Unearthed is on at the New Wimbledon Studio until 6th May then goes on a UK tour before ending at the Arcola Theatre on the 24th May.