Frozen at the Albany
Deeply affecting, grippingly emotional and shockingly disturbing, Jeni Draper’s Frozen by Bryony Lavery is an unexpectedly candid exploration of the dimensions of trauma that touch a family, an outsider and a perpetrator, when a child goes missing.
It was the result of a simple chore. Nancy asks her youngest daughter Rhona to return a pair of garden sheers to her grandmother’s house up the road but when the 10-year-old girl never makes it there, the hope of her return leaves the mother crippled in a state of anger and uncertainty. But years later, as criminal psychologist Agnetha presents her thesis on the accountability of serial killers, she profiles the very man suspected in Rhona’s disappearance, rehashing the emotion surrounding the mystery all over again.
Presented by the Fingersmiths theatre company, using British Sign Language as well as spoken English, they create a multi-layered narrative in which characters interact with their own personas as well as one another.
Starring Hazel Maycock, Mike Hugo and Sophie Stone as the speaking leads, the trio are passionate and convincing in their respective roles, provoking feelings of deep sadness, fear, hatred and understanding.
Maycock initially creates a seemingly simple, motherly type character in Nancy, preoccupied with the upkeep of her garden, lightheartedly exasperated by the demands of her family. But when the tragedy of her daughter’s disappearance sets in, she reveals a profoundly distressed woman, struggling to cope with the everlasting pain of loss. She is fiery and expressive when describing how she would mutilate and murder the man that took Rhona before ever considering forgiveness and, in that moment, you can feel the anger she exhibits as if it were your own.
Hugo is chilling and vehement as the offender, Ralph, calmly discussing the abductions of three young girls at one moment, then violently enacting the way in which he endures years of mistreatment at the hands of his mother and stepfather. When recreating his quaint, fictitious upbringing, the few slips of truth reveal a man suffering from a great deal of physical and mental abuse from an early age and offers some rationale for the horrific acts he commits.
Neil Fox-Roberts’s BSL interpretation of Ralph offers even greater insight into the character, as if representing internal conflict, the duo interact amicably most often but Fox-Roberts is more aggressive, at times spinning the lies and pushing Hugo’s version to the edge.
While dynamic staging, dramatic music and intricate lighting all contribute to the overall realism of the production, some dialogue can be difficult to follow at times and various BSL representations seem to create new characters instead of encompassing one. But despite some minor inconsistencies, the production is a thought-provoking piece that will leave you shaken but accepting of the tragedies that can not be changed.
Frozen was at The Albany for two nights. For further information about future events visit the venue’s website here.