Vera Vera Vera at the Theatre Local, Peckham
Hayley Squires trained as an actor and graduated from Rose Bruford College in 2012, and Vera Vera Vera is her first full-length play, according to the Methuen Drama printed play text. After reading and viewing the play twice – once in its original set at The Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Upstairs and secondly at The Theatre Local, Peckham – you can confidently state that Squires defines raw talent.
The hour-long production is introduced with a beautifully painted set, designed by the keen-eye-for-detail Tom Piper, complete with a real turfed floor strewn with rubbish and dirtied grass. It even smells authentic. Charlie, played by a gentle but characterful Abby Rakic-Platt, sits with the ever familiar Romeo & Juliet play text and a lunch box complete with a jam sandwich and penguin bars. The tranquility of the scene is interrupted with the entrance of a furiously energised young boxer, Sammy (Ted Reilly), which unfolds into a curious, heart-warming, honest and understanding dialogue of first love and the trials of admitting how you feel. The pair of young actors absorb and intertwine each other’s energies gorgeously, and grow together on stage throughout the piece.
Their scenes collaborate intelligently with Charlie’s cousin Emily’s flat (Danielle Flett), whom she shares with her depressive off-stage mother and brother, Danny (Tommy McDonnell). The family is grieving the loss of their youngest brother, Bobby, who was shot in Afghanistan. The text describes the raw harrowing effects of a loved-one’s death and how anger manifests itself into words and violence. Despite the brashness, cutting syntax and piercing eyes of Danny, played by a bold Mcdonnell, you can’t help but empathise with his sheer destructive nature.
Danny Kendrick plays Lee, Bobby’s oldest and dearest friend, who tells it how it is with gravitas and coolness, with his utterly broken heart on his sleeve. His character is sleeping with Emily, and this haunts the scenes with fear, confusion and guilt. The atmosphere is delivered powerfully and clearly by the ensemble. The skeletal posture of Flett chills you, and her desperate, gravelly voice shatters any hope of relief.
The cast support and hold each other beautifully, directed by a very able Jo McInnes. The scene changes are smooth and interactive, covered with the weighted voice of Vera Lynn assisting the heavy hearts the cast are carrying. But without such a commanding, vivid text written beyond well, by the fresh Hayley Squires, there would be none of this. All of the above are ones to watch.
Vera Vera Vera is at the Theatre Local, Peckham, until 28th July 2012. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the cast’s video diary here: