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SAD review (The Marlowe Theatre)

[AD – PR invite*]


Kent-based theatre makers Brigitte Aphrodite and Quiet Boy (Gaz Tomlinson) have been based at the Marlowe Theatre this week with their deeply personal piece of gig theatre SAD, which was born in the years after Gaz lost his mother. Part theatre production and live musical performance, SAD enjoyed a run at Summerhall at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and has transferred to my local theatre’s Studio venue for a handful of performances. I was fortunate enough to be able to review the production on its press night and was so looking forward to experiencing a new genre of theatre in the Marlowe’s second performance space.

SAD leaflet and ticket outside The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, Kent

A space to grieve

The show is about the grief Gaz experienced after the loss of his mother, but it is presented in a format that allows the audience to feel part of the performance space and reflect on their own experiences of loss. From the warm and inclusive introduction by Brigitte to the replaying of words from friends and family through the speakers, there are moments of Quiet Boy’s story that everybody can relate to. Taking inspiration from musical artist Nick Cave and his approach to talking about the subject of grief, the feeling of heartache and learning to live again in the wake of sadness can be echoed by everybody in attendance.

Glowing lighting design

Lights and mood lighting are a fundamental part of this personal narrative, with the performers explaining that lights were a significant part of Quiet Boy’s parents’ home. Each light also represents a pre-recorded anecdote about a lost loved one, coming alive in sync with the enticing sounds. The entire set represents a living room space, with various floor level and overhead lamps softly alternating between on and off, in time with the musician’s compositions. Furthermore, some of the props within the living room are cleverly lit, such as Gaz’s mug and the glowing mini bar, which help to make light one of the most impactful parts of the work.

SAD leaflet inside The Marlowe Theatre Studio in Canterbury, Kent

On the whole it is incredibly atmospheric, but something that is a little uncomfortable for the senses is the contrast between periods of darkness and radiating lights at the back of the stage. The differences can have a jolting effect, disrupting the calming atmosphere of the art. As much as the darkness is admirable in inspiring thoughts and reflections, the production would be slightly easier to watch without such polarising moments.

Immersive sound and compositions

Quiet Boy’s compositions are chilling, with every note and word breaking the peaceful silence in the Studio. The pair’s sounds practically dance around the theatrical space, providing a high level of immersion. The effects are responsible for drawing audiences into this anecdotal piece of theatre, where Brigitte and Quiet Boy express their past emotional struggles.

The Marlowe Theatre Summer Season brochure and a leaflet for SAD

Animated visuals

The illustrative visuals are incredibly clever, adding animations to the static props and set pieces. Apart from the metaphor which relates a sphere with grief at the start, there are limited references to this imagery throughout the performance time. Largely a conceptual piece of work, such creative elements could do with a little more explanation or clarity to reach heights beyond an engaging visual.

Final thoughts

This deeply emotive and intimate piece of theatre takes audiences away from their daily lives for an hour, reaching a place where Brigitte and Quiet Boy’s own experiences of grief can be felt from every corner of the room. The production has now finished its run at the Marlowe, but I look forward to hearing what’s next for the duo. They certainly know how to pour their hearts into their work and use light and sound to heal.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

Love Kat xxxx

*My ticket for SAD was gifted in exchange for an unbiased review.



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