Cassie and the Lights, VAULT Festival

https://flickr.com/photos/43053770@N00/49475140222/in/album-72157712935137823/

by Becky Lennon

This story, based on real-life events, follows the lives of three sisters – Cassie (Alex Brain), Tin (Michaela Murphy) and Kit (Emily McGlynn) – after their mother disappears at a bowling alley. Although the piece focuses on the teenage perspective of the British care system, it also acknowledges the differences within individual families, the value of these differences, and invites us to ask, what makes a family?

From entering the space to the final bows, we are welcomed into the sisters loving relationship. Much like how Kit and Tin claim their mother “holds their hands through everything, even the dark”, the cast guided the audience through the characters’ journeys by stating what is going to happen next, which makes the story clear and easy to follow. For example, when an upsetting or emotive section began, we would be told “this part is going to be a bit sad, but you can do it”. It puts us at ease.

The story is cleverly curated and delivered, but the beauty of the live electronic score, composed by Imogen and Ellie Mason and performed by Imogen and Phoebe Coco, cannot be ignored. The constant use of background music enhances the piece and created a strong atmosphere throughout.

This is also complimented by the simple, yet effective set designed by Alex Howarth and Georgia Cusworth. The use of luggage, bags and suitcases really sticks out, as it emphasis the temporality of the care system and the idea of living out of suitcases. I also appreciated the washing line across the back of the stage, which is used to project images and film onto. This evokes the old phrase, “having your dirty laundry out for all to see”, as the sisters are frequently shamed by peers for their circumstances and given no empathy. This prompts hard questions, such as, “how would you support someone if you knew this was their circumstance?”.

The piece is a great demonstration of the struggles of young people in the care system today and the prejudices that are present in society today.

Cassie and the Lights runs through 2 February.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

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