Through This Mist
Clean Break uses theatre to tell the stories of women who have been involved in the criminal justice system. Through This Mist is directed by Anna Herrmann and Róisín McBrinn and consists of a collection of five soliloquies, one of which is delivered as an a cappella vocal, interspersing the others. The pieces were written collaboratively with the performers.
The show takes place in the courtyard outside the company’s Kentish Town home, where a very small audience is ushered in and glamour puss Eddy Emenike perches atop a wall covered in glittery green fronds. Her song, Carry Me Home, performed without any instrumental accompaniment, makes the most of her rich voice and the acoustics.
The first monologue – Maren by Chloë Moss and Sarah-Jane Dent – is delivered from inside the building. Dent bursts into performance from an unexpected place, using the window to illustrate her character’s physical and mental incarceration. She tells the story of her life and how she came to be in prison. The actress is faultless and heart-wrenching as she details a lifetime of abuse.
The next – Birthday Message by Ayesha Antoine and Yvonne Wickham – begins as explosively as the first, with Wickham leaping out of a concealed door and setting of a giant party popper. The outside space adds meditative sensory elements and the pieces of confetti are picked up into slow cyclones by the wind as the artiste’s vivacity turns into something more complex.
Following this, the charismatic TerriAnn Oudjar invites the audience to sit around the fire pit as she performs the haunting and philosophical Blank Pages, written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm and Oudjar. There is a poetic call for “no excess except in nature in her circuits of the sun”, at which point a well-timed passing seagull squawks its input, another charming unexpected element to an outside production.
The final monologue is Step 9 by Kath Chandler and Nicole Hall. The piece is about a woman in recovery meeting the mother who gave her up for adoption for the first time. Hall inhabits both characters deftly, twisting and hacking from a lifetime of drug abuse.
The intense and impassioned performances are arguably presented more effectively than traditional pieces, and this is supported by the talent of the actors. At the end, the audience is invited to pluck two leaves from the white trees behind the seats. The “trees” are constructed from recycled paper. Viewers are first asked to write something they wish to get rid of from their lives and burn it in the fire, and then something they want to grow which they can take away to bury. This piece is theatre meets therapy; a powerful and thought-provoking experience.
Through This Mist is at Clean Break from 15th July until 17th July 2021. For further information or to book visit Clean Break’s website here.