6th November 2023
Touring the UK, Frantic Assembly’s ‘I Think We Are Alone’ is a heart-wrenching tale of loneliness in the busiest of places.
Co-directors Kathy Burke and Scott Graham’s vision is simple yet exquisite. Only six characters act in this production, set in London. Two bickering sisters who have not spoken in person for eight years are tormented by their pasts. A grieving Mother, Josie, projects all of her hopes and dreams onto her son Manny. Cabbie Graham is missing someone and so is taken to dark places in his mind. Cleverly, these three story lines link and the individuals connect throughout the play.
Passionate and emotional monologues draw in the watchers from the beginning as characters are unable to talk to each other. Instead they directly address the audience. Stand out character Josie’s (Chizzy Akudolu’s) sassy monologue raises laughs and smiles as well as provoking thoughts. She addresses issues the audience all resonate with such as grieving for loved ones. She also addresses class divides in her place of work as she is working class and often deals with middle class customers.
Four glass screens form the basis of the physical theatre. These glass screens are moved around and used as scenery by all six actors. Staging is simple yet effective, with glass screens used as a bed and even a bridge. These screens form a box when characters are in emotional turmoil, seemingly trapped in their mind, unsettling yet powerful. Morgan Large scales the set back with these glass screens but this is the beauty of this play, we do not need much else as the audience to truly appreciate it.
A particularly poignant moment is the one night stand scene where Ange (Charlotte Bate) and Manny (Caleb Roberts) seem to be in a normal post night out situation. Quickly, the audience goes from laughing to shocked silence, you could hear a pin drop. Something so emotional is communicated in such an important way. It reminds the audience that traumatic events can have long-lasting psychological effects.
Using contemporary issues means that the play constantly presents moments which audience members think they can predict the outcome of such as sexual assault and alcohol abuse. However, they are then interrupted by a tragic or significant admission by a character. It seems as if the characters are connecting directly with the audience and stirs up emotion.
Understanding why Frantic Assembly is celebrating its 25th anniversary is easy, as this style of theatre goes back to basics in such a genius way. Actors are astonishing, with lengthy dialogues revealing their talent and wanting to communicate contemporary issues to us, to make us reflect on our own lives.
Writer, Sally Abbott, makes us consider our interactions with other people and drives us to want to check in on our friends. Catching the right balance between emotion and humour in theatre can be tricky, but Abbot succeeds.
If you are looking for something different, go and see ‘I Think We Are Alone’. It makes you think, but it also makes you feel something powerful and worthwhile.
Touring across the UK. Runs until 16th May. Tickets are available at via the link.