A historical play about love, and the strains that war and distance can put on this, Georgina Varley’s “Letting Go” was thoroughly captivating, exploring the tragedy of sending your loved ones to war; a story paralleled in real life by many. It examines the ruthlessness and extremities people go to for love, and adds a shocking plot twist on the typical love triangle observed in many plays, keeping the audience completely engaged through its unpredictability.

Keeps the audience completely engaged through its unpredictability.

Set in 1914, we observe Kitty Parnell (played by Olivia Rook) dealing with the heartbreak of her brother, Charlie (Ricki Crook), and boyfriend, Jack (Omid Faramarzi), going off to fight in the war, convincingly displaying the emotions and difficulties many went through during this time. The simplistic set of just a brown board meant our attention was solely on the actors throughout the entirety of the play; a great pressure as this meant all the action had to be conveyed through their acting skills rather than the distraction of an extravagant set. They stepped up to the challenge, with the intimacy of the studio helping the audience feel involved throughout, and managed to convincingly portray the heartbreak of saying goodbye.

“Letting Go” was thoroughly captivating, exploring the tragedy of sending your loved ones to war

We meet our three main characters as children; Charlie as the over-protective brother playing a game of tag with his sister, Kitty, and Jack introduced as the obstacle between the two siblings, immediately engaging audience interest at the feud between the two male protagonists, which goes unanswered until the end. We instantly warm to Jack, the hopeless romantic besotted with Kitty, increasing our sympathy for the couple when he is pressured into going to war early on in the play by Officer Thomas (Matt Hodges), after we flash forward to the characters as adults.

The plot really starts to take an interesting turn

The rivalry between Jack and Charlie remains prominent, even when both are fighting for their lives, with both actors conveying sincerity and invoking audience sympathy for Jack through Charlie’s malicious treatment of him. As a light release from this intensity, we are offered a small amusing scene from Matt Standern, playing Harry Lacey – a soldier fighting alongside Jack.  The drunken character of Harry adds comedic value, relieving audience tension for a short while, but still keeping the play moving. It is after Jack pours his heart out to Harry about Kitty that the true brutality of Charlie is revealed and the plot really starts to take an interesting turn.

An impressive play, and thoroughly enjoyable

The only issue with the play was perhaps that the violence was not necessarily convincing. Although there was an excellent scene, where flashing lights were used to portray gun shots, the use of guns and actor intensity in another scene was slightly underwhelming (similarly, Charlie being slapped by Kitty could have been more impressively staged). However, we must make exceptions for the fact it was performed in a small studio, resulting in limitations.

Overall, this was an excellent performance from all cast members, taking the audience back in history to a period where times were hard, and all people had was each other. Both Varley’s script and the actors made it very easy to relate to the tragic love story, and engaged me throughout. An impressive play, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Star-Rating-41

Lucy Castle

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