People, Places & Things – Wyndhams Theatre, London

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TheatreTickets.uk who have very kindly sponsored my review for People, Places & Things are a fantastic website that sell a wide variety of theatre tickets for the many productions the West End has on offer. Please make sure you use them to get your theatre tickets!

I have heard many positive comments about the show and there has been much praise about it. Having not seen many plays and mainly seeing musicals, I wanted to see for myself if it really was as good as I had heard. My opinion – yes!

A show that far exceeds many productions I have ever seen. A show that shocks you to the core – but also leaves you thinking, what happens next?

The play written by Duncan Macmillan tells the story of a troubled and vulnerable Emma, played by the immensely talented Denise Gough. Emma tells us she is an actress who is often used to lying as she is always pretending to be somebody else. Living life as an alcoholic and drug addict makes her desperate, irrational and emotional. We first see her starring in a The Seagull whilst she is intoxicated and high, within minutes the entire set changes to reveal a sterile and bright white rehab clinic reception that Emma checks in to. She tells them that she doesn’t want to stay long, just enough to detox and get the letter she can give to her employer telling them she is no longer a danger.

The play is mainly set in the rehab centre and we see Emma taking part in the support group sessions over a period of time as she faces many ups and downs whilst she is there. Admittedly, when I heard that the play centred around somebody having a breakdown on stage, I was unsure at how this would work. Macmillan’s ability to include such difficult issues, but to inject humour into the subject is not only clever but testament to his writing skills. I felt on a number of occasions I shouldn’t be laughing at something which was so sensitive and raw, but the use of humour adds more realism and enabled us to really want her to succeed in her personal battle.

The use of sound and lighting are phenomenal, the audience is taken inside the mind of Emma with the use of lighting effects and hedonistic music as she begins to detox as the drugs take their effect on her. Whilst the set is simple in design, the audience are also sat on the stage which adds to the claustrophobic element I imagine that rehab can bring.

Gough is very rarely off stage for the entire performance and she plays this role with such passion and belief, you are drawn in to her struggle. I was often on the edge of my seat, hoping she would win the battle, rooting her along. The characteristics, mannerisms and body language had all been perfected by Gough which makes this a fantastic and unique production.

Barbara Marten also stood out for me, she plays the therapist for Emma and then her mother. Marten plays the therapist with much warmth and it isn’t until we see her play Emma’s mum that we see a very harsh, bitter and emotionless character come to life.

It has been very long time since I have felt so involved with a production and to become so invested with what is going on, this is a production that will have you not wanting to move your eyes off the stage. Everything about this is captivating and shocking.

People, Places & Things is the greatest and most powerful stage performance I have seen and Gough deserves every success (with her recent Olivier Award wins) for the remainder of it’s run until 18th June. This is a show that will make you ask many questions of yourself.

For more information and to get yourself tickets before it ends – visit their website: http://www.peopleplacesthingsonstage.com  

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