terptree: Frozen Out

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Friday, 21 February 2014

Frozen Out

Our terptree team headed out to the theatre to see Frozen, a play by Bryony Lavery. Read on to hear what our Marketing Officer, Michael Suppo, thought about it. 
On the 19th of February, the terptree team of Victoria, myself, Kerrie and Claire were scheduled to go to watch a deaf production by Fingersmiths of the play ‘Frozen’ at The Albany, a quaint theatre in Deptford, East London.

Frozen was written by Bryony Lavery and was first performed in 1998. Jeni Draper, a trained actor who has appeared in ‘Eastenders’, ‘The Bill’ and, more famously, terptree bookings, has taken the challenge of translating and directing the play for a deaf and hearing audience.

Frozen is best categorised as a psychological thriller that revolves around a murdered 10 year old girl called Rhona. The story follows the three individual lives that have been affected by Rhona’s death; Ralph who kidnapped and murdered her, Rhona’s mother, Nancy, and a New York psychiatrist called Agnetha. As the play progresses, the individual stories intersect with dramatic consequences.

Back in Newbury we were having our own drama; we knew the performance started at 7.30. Our evening got off to a delayed start as we shut the office at 5pm, with a trip to Reading to pick up a deaf friend and a chaotic negotiation through London’s rush hour traffic awaited us. If you’re familiar with London, you’ll know the archetypal rush hour time frame is 4pm to 8pm. Consequently, the terptree team were experiencing ‘seat of your pants’ sensations before even arriving!

After a couple of stationary moments on the M4 to London, our journey though South London progressed slowly. We were in Chelsea at 7.20pm, with another 10 miles to go… it wasn't looking good, not helped by Victoria’s sat nav having circling around London like vultures. On the plus side, we got to see some amazing sights – the London Eye, the Shard, the Bluebird bar where Made in Chelsea is often filmed, the lit up Chelsea bridge and the Vauxhall bridge (where you saw part of MI5 blowing up in ‘Skyfall’). At this point, Claire came out with “I thought MI5 was ‘made up’ until I watched that!”

At 8.05pm we arrived at The Albany, where we were told that we couldn’t be let in until the next interval… IN 45 MINUTES TIME! After a couple of failed negotiating attempts, we decided to go to a pub around the corner called ‘The Royal Albert’. It was a good excuse to be light hearted about the situation; Claire's comment of “drinking vinegar flavoured wine in a pub that stank of fish” pretty much typified our night!

We appeared at the theatre 45 minutes later to an unmanned desk and there was no evident interval. We seized the opportunity to sneak in while the guards weren't around, and saw the play was in full flow still. We went up and watched it from the upper tier. At this point we had missed an hour and a half of the play, but given we knew what the story was about, it was not too difficult to follow.

The play was produced using both BSL and English languages; a Deaf version and a hearing version, running concurrently on the stage, but linked by the hearing individual (i.e. Nancy) bouncing monologues off of the Deaf Nancy, with hearing Nancy. It was very clever how this play was produced to suit both audiences.

The drama unfolding in front of our eyes was distinctly powerful and captivating, even though we’d missed out on the progressive build up in tension, which you naturally get from watching something from the beginning. The drama reached its climax and with this, just half an hour into our viewing time, it was over. 

We left the theatre feeling as if we’d just attended a birthday party in time for cake, but none of the celebration activities beforehand. Jeni Draper was sympathetic about our situation and said she would help us gain some form of compensation for missing around 75-80% of the play. It was a shame this had happened as we were all raving about the play afterwards, it was highly theatrical and tense, and you couldn't help being engrossed.

By the time we’d got home, in Newbury, at roughly midnight, we mused that we had spent around an average of 5 hours of car time and 1 hour of out of car time. Therefore, in a sense we had our own version of frozen, within the small compartment of a four wheel vehicle…

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