Daniel Morris’ Deliria is a heart wrenching tale of familial bonds, shrouded in the complexities of illness and survival amidst the dark urban future setting.
“I entered rather apprehensive with only the knowledge of the vague plot brief”
One always enters an unknown play with caution. The poster (by Mia Prince) gave very little away and I will admit, I entered rather apprehensive with only the knowledge of the vague plot brief which asked more questions than answered. What I was greeted with was a simplistic yet reflective set; pale walls, a kitchen counter, a microwave, two chairs, a T.V and a bookcase.
Behind this lay a large projection, displaying a city view with constant rain that functioned both as a literally projected window in this futuristic setting, and also aided in transforming the space from apartment, to city street to cemetery. The costumes too, elegant in their simplicity, blurred the placement of the production in a particular time, whilst also made clear the character’s resemblance to the audience.
“Coupled with the excellent use of light and sound, audiences were drawn into the conflicts of the characters”
The tale follows the story of Jenny (Emma Collingwood) who works a life of dishonest sales to provide for her brother (Oliver Binns). With familial ties becoming strained between the two, Jenny debates whether she should take a job opportunity elsewhere and leave her brother. Through use of small displays of physical theatre, Morris and his producer (Isabelle Cadwaller) created a beautiful picture of internal struggle, mirrored though dance-esque fights.
Coupled with the excellent use of light (Nadia Elalfi) and sound (Yasmine Dankwah), audiences were drawn into the conflicts of the characters. I would like to bring to light a particular scene in which the silent T.V displays videos of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five whilst a heartbeat monitor played in the background – the sound came from behind the audience which already added a sense of unease, and the entire scene was beautifully laid out to create a juxtaposition of fond childhood memories with the threatening and melancholic hospital element. This scene in particular was incredibly well staged.
“Credit must go to the acting abilities of all”
The range of characters, whilst perhaps falling slightly into stereotypes, really explored the variety of human life, as well as tackling some often overlooked or misunderstood concepts. I congratulate the writer for his clarification of asexuality and his tackling of some very relevant topics in both an educational and clever way. One needs only reference Greg’s (Eric Crouch) subtle hint to Brexit having occurred or the crack in the fourth wall when Jenny notes that her friend’s apartment contains the exact same chairs as hers, to show how the cast worked to engage their audience. These subtle touches occurred just at the right points, with the consistent eating of tinned spaghetti reflecting both poverty alongside comedy.
I must note that I am unsure as to whether the character of McAfree (Matteo Bagaini), the representation of corporate shallowness, was intended to be as comic as his friends in the audience found him, but nonetheless the actor was skilled in being both alluring yet almost detestable, especially if you sided as much with the struggling Jenny as I did. Credit must go to the acting abilities of all, with special mention to Oliver Binns’ representation of a confused, angry yet sensitive and almost oppressed character; his body language and all actors’ use of space made visual the character’s awkwardness in social situations. What appeared extremely effective was the use of silence, which created a great sense of painful embarrassment felt by audiences and characters alike, whilst also bringing to light the problems of social anxiety.
I would like also to point out the great significance of the female role in the production, with Emma Collingwood’s Jenny embodying the struggle of women having to face the world alone, accompanied by the references to her mother, both of whom experienced situations in life that led the characters to dark paths. It appears Jenny cannot catch a break, and I personally spent the entire play wishing I could help her whilst also admiring her resilience and strength.
“Themes of family, poverty, money, death and illness proved attractively gritty”
It was certainly a tale audiences could relate to, and the central themes of family, poverty, money, death and illness proved attractively gritty. My only fault would be the few parts where very little action occurred, yet the words spoken and the emphasis on monotony proved relevant to the play overall, with small touches meshing together to create the production.
It is clear a lot of time, effort and skill went into this performance, and I cannot stress enough how proud all involved should be- as one who has seen the time and dedication it takes to program just one light or say one line, it is remarkable how smooth the performance went. The ending left very little satisfaction which I suppose is the sign of a play one fully engaged with. Overall, the performance was very well done and, although slightly too slow at times, was a good mix of humour, politics, familial tension and anguish. Congrats again to the whole team!
Featured image courtesy of Nottingham New Theatre via Facebook.