Playing Up Theatre Company has a reputation of producing challenging theatre. Never playing it safe and being brave enough to produce work that is relevant, vital and recent.
That Face by Polly Stenham is part of the A Level curriculum which is an absolute gift for local drama students but aside from that it is a brutal, compelling drama that demands excellent performances from the small cast.
Never one to shirk away from difficult subjects; Stenham shows us the world of a dysfunctional family where roles are never clear-cut and circumstances defy our expectations.
Here the children act like the parents whilst the parents have offloaded responsibilities for various reasons and parachute in to try and fix things, with money.
The excellent cast capture these dilemmas with skill and conviction. Sophie Brooks as Martha the disturbing, self-centred alcoholic mother with attachment issues is mesmerising.
Her obsession with her son Henry (Finn Collinson) is at odds with her rejection of the unsurprisingly emotionally unstable daughter Mia (Lucia Vinyard).
Collinson as Henry turns in a truly impressive performance. Having given up school to essentially protect his mother, the relationship has him trapped and confused. He is clearly unable to care for her enough but the relationship they form is engaging and the final scenes both compelling and heart breaking.
Lucia Vinyard as the wayward Mia is a strong and fierce presence alongside the sinister and beguiling Lara Lawman as Izzy.
The company are seamless; Robert Finlay as the wealthy father who arrives to face the chaos offering money to glue the pieces back together is understandably swimming against a terrifying tide.
Stenham provides an insight without opinion or commentary. Swiftly and well directed by Darian Nelson the choreographed scene changes make full use of the small stage.
However, the Rondo proves to be the perfect setting for this intense and frightening drama. This is strong work from a brave and exciting local company.
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Reviewer: Petra Schofield
That Face, written by Polly Stenham and presented by the Playing Up Theatre Company, was at the Rondo Theatre in Bath between 13th and 16th February 2019.