Student-written theatre has never been finer than in Emma White’s Infectious. The two woman play is punchy, hilarious, and heart-breaking, and on multiple occasions through its one hour run time had its audience in fits of laughter, followed closely by tears.

The story is effectively a monologue by Jessica, played by Felicity Chilver, that revolves around friendships, love and relationships, with scenes from her memories played out by her childhood best friend, Abbie, played by Daniella Finch, all accompanied by moments of audience interaction.

The words audience interaction are enough to strike fear into even the most avid theatre-goer’s heart but certainly when I watched Infectious, the audience were more than compliant, despite having to do such things as re-enacting Bridget Jones giving birth, a section of the play which was side-splittingly funny! This was largely down to Chilver’s bubbly and likeable portrayal, which meant you couldn’t help but feel comfortable in her presence.

Not only was the acting stunning but the set, designed by Emily Wong, fitted the general feel of the play perfectly and, accompanied by the clever warm and cold lighting designed by Joanne Blunt and Ben Woodford, allowed Daniella Finch’s composed and understanding Abbie to move about the space, always being present yet somehow still feeling removed.

”The creative use of baked beans to show Jessica’s sadness and anger, playing off a repeated motif, towards the end of the play was beautiful in its simplicity yet also deeply moving’’

Some aspects of the show could have felt gimmicky, the use of sand and baked beans on stage for example could have felt contrived but it in fact worked incredibly well, especially in Jessica’s beautifully evocative description of a time on the beach as she is making a sand angel on stage. Also, the creative use of baked beans to show Jessica’s sadness and anger, playing off a repeated motif, towards the end of the play was beautiful in its simplicity yet also deeply moving.

”Emma White’s script was beautifully harrowing’’

Emma White’s script was beautifully harrowing, especially towards the final few poignant scenes where it became clear that this was as emotional for the actors as it was for us as the audience, the emotions that the actors were portraying through their words and body language not only felt realistic but real. Maybe the audience interaction had broken down the barriers but it certainly felt like we were as much involved in the heartache of the final scenes as the actors portraying it.

”The whole play was flawless in its subtle portrayal of the internal struggles of Jessica coming to terms with her newfound adulthood and the general struggles of having to move on’’

I’m at a loss to think of any faults or improvements; the whole play was flawless in its subtle portrayal of the internal struggles of Jessica coming to terms with her newfound adulthood and the general struggles of having to move on. The two leads executed the script and the added improvised scenes impeccably. Director Emma White and producer Emily Sterling should be highly commended on the moving and imaginative piece of theatre that they have managed to create. Though it is a heart-breaking story that reduced much of the audience to tears, the ultimate message is an uplifting one. This is very definitely a show that should not be missed!

What a way to kick off the Spring Fringe Season!

10/10 – Utterly faultless

Daniel McVey

Image courtesy of the Nottingham New Theatre

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