Imaginationship at Finborough Theatre
Sex, longing, love and murder are a classic combo in Sue Healy’s new play Imaginationship, directed by Tricia Thorns. Set in the coastal town of Great Yarmouth – which by a majority voted in favour of Brexit – the location is a very significant element of the piece. The seaside resort has much history as an ancient port that has suffered through many wars and was nearly devastated by flooding during the North Sea Flood in the 1950s and more recently by complete inundation from torrential rains in 2006. A primarily blue-collar locale, the source of Great Yarmouth’s nostalgia for a UK of times past is a feeling of disenfranchisement, of being ignored by the British establishment. Such sentiments form a powerful backdrop for a play about dreams of a better life, unrequited passions, conflicted, impossible relationships and violence.
With strong characterisations, the personalities in this work stand out as unique individuals with a touch of that traditional British eccentricity, portrayed affectionately despite their tension and barely contained desperation. An ageing Ginnie (Jilly Bond) has a completely impractical girl crush on a sexually obsessed Brenda (Patience Tomlinson). Hungarian immigrant Attila (Bart Suavek) is marginally making a living while chasing Melody (Joanna Bending) who is in love with her oblivious adult education teacher Tony (Rupert Wickham).
The fact that Great Yarmouth is a resort town as well as a port lends an atmosphere of fantasy and an inclination to be forever lost in a kind of eternal holiday hopefulness imbued with unrealistic expectations. To look out on the ocean, watching ships arrive and depart, provides here a constant sense of anticipation of better things, while simultaneously creating a feeling of being left behind.
Healy’s writing in this piece is excellent and intelligently conceived, direction by Thorns is impressive, and the actors’ performances are inspired. Set design (Leigh Malone, Isabella Van Braeckel), lighting (Richard Haines) and sound (Eugene Sully) are very effective in reinforcing a mood of yearning, tension and aggression.
First shown as a staged reading – part of Vibrant 2017 – Imaginationship’s inauguration as a theatrical production is a compelling, entertaining, thought-provoking success and well worth a viewing.
Photo: Phil Gammon
Imaginationship is at Finborough Theatre from 7th until 23rd January 2018. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.