Review: Pink

Ashley Chhibber 10 May 2013


Homerton Auditorium, Thurs 9th – Sat 11th May, 7.30pm

An amazing cast and a very strong script combine to produce a must-see play about human nature and what it means to grow up in a broken world. Realistic, emotionally charged and very polished, this is a production of the absolute highest quality.

Six children of various ages with very little experience of the outside world are struggling to grow up together in a children’s home. They survive on a diet of gone-off sweets and very little sleep; there are strong indications of abuse, and often disturbing hints of a burgeoning childhood sexuality. It is often difficult for adult actors to realistically portray children, yet Pink does not in any way suffer from this problem, and the realism and empathic power of the action is constant throughout. Tania Clarke’s powerful script draws out the personalities of the children clearly and concisely both in the interactions between characters and in the intense monologues with which the action is interspersed. There is humour, almost an accidental result of the odd behaviour of children; it is used gently and subtly.

The set design was minimalist but exciting. The floor is covered with paper, white and pure until stained by childish scribbling, as the characters attempt to draw the outside world, or to pull themselves into an imaginary safe-haven. The drawings overlap, invading each other’s space, and differ considerably even when depicting the same objects. The use of lighting effects to draw out the theme of colour, as explored within the limitations of sweets and crayons, was also very effective in scene setting. The largest problem with this whole play was when the sound of paper being ripped (as the set was adjusted) started to drown out a key speech but the space was generally impressively used.

The acting was superb on all counts. It would have been nice to see more from Kay Dent, whose character was silent and easily forgotten, but within the narrative structure it was necessary for her to fade into the background. The scene in which Allie (Rhianna Frost) and Michael (Tris Hobson) attempt to comfort her was one of the most touching and most amusing in the whole piece. Both Frost and Hobson, playing the two youngest characters, made excellent use of their physicality to portray childish exuberance and emotional turbulence, and spoke with very convincing ‘children’s voices’; these two in particular completely inhabited their characters.

The varying age dynamic was easily established early on, and worked incredibly well. Perhaps John (George Longworth) swore too much to be completely true to life, even for the eldest child, but as a characterisation device this marked him out as having particularly suffered sustained abuse and so gradually being changed into a secondary abuser. Sarah Mercer as Mollie, and Carn Truscott as Freddie, also put in strong performances, particularly when they had more intimate monologues, although as with Kay Dent (but to a lesser degree) their characters were less prominent, more reticent, and so offered fewer opportunities to shine.

Some theatre-goers may be reluctant to venture away from the traditional ADC-Corpus binary to travel out to Homerton; equally, there are those for whom exam term means total lockdown and no more theatre. Such people would be missing out on a truly fantastic, almost flawless show.

Ashley Chhibber