Phoenix Rising, The Big House, review: ‘Intelligent, magnetic and raw with emotion’

PUBLISHED: 10:29 15 November 2017

Rebecca Farinre and Aston McAuley. Picture: Rick Findler

Rebecca Farinre and Aston McAuley. Picture: Rick Findler

Rick Findler

Essential viewing at the Smithfield Meat Market, this play tells a harrowing tale of life after care

Perrina Allen and Atlantia Sami. Picture: Rick FindlerPerrina Allen and Atlantia Sami. Picture: Rick Findler

If you’re going to see any theatre this month, it should be this. No introductory waffle, just a simple request.

The Big House Theatre Company works with youngsters leaving care and at risk, enabling them to fulfil their potential, potential that is clear from watching their new play, Phoenix Rising.

Directed by founder Maggie Norris, and written by Andrew Day with help from the cast, there is a certain poignancy to this production as it revisits the Big House’s first play in 2013, which was informed by the experience with multiple sclerosis of one of the cast members. Dwayne Kieran Nero died earlier this year, and this reimagining has been dedicated to him.

The audience follows 18 year old Callum around the car park of Smithfield Meat Market as he leaves care, going straight into poverty and dealing alone with a lifetime of trauma.

His dreams of being a world class runner fade as his legs start to fail him. He endures visits from social workers (whose infuriating platitudes of “looking into it” and “processing requests” make no tangible improvements to his life), fractured personal relationships and heart wrenching flashbacks to a childhood before care.

Aston McAuley achieves something remarkable with his portrayal of Callum. He throws himself into the role with an astonishing level of mental and physical energy; it’s a highly intelligent interpretation, both magnetic and subtle. His interactions with Oz Enver as the disease are haunting.

In fact, the entire cast make the play. From Perrina Allen as Callum’s manipulative girlfriend Nina to his friends Omar (Jordan Bangura) and Bready (Daniel Akilimali), who inject flashes of comedy – not easy in a play of this weight. The set pieces involving the whole cast really hammer home how polished Phoenix Rising is.

When a theatre company can put on a better show in the basement car park of an old meat market than many can do in a plush theatre with all the gimmicks at their fingertips, I know which I’d rather support.

There’s no buffer to separate the audience from the story. It’s raw with emotion and you live it with them in the knowledge that it isn’t just a story. It’s the lives of young people all over the country, and something needs to be done.

Rating: 5/5 stars

(Meet at The Hope pub at 7pm) Tickets: thebighouse.uk.com/phoenix-rising

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Stories

50 minutes ago

Two goals in the final five minutes at the San Siro turned the game in favour of the Italian side

London Senior Cup first round: Haringey Borough 4 Beckenham Town 1

London Senior Cup first round: Harrow Borough 3 (O’Connor 5, Kearney 10, 11) Hendon (Hippolyte-Patrick 21, White 80)

08:10

Middlesex opener Sam Robson admitted to a mixture of emotions after scoring his first century of the season on day one of their County Championship Division Two match with Derbyshire.

A murder investigation has been launched after a 25-year-old man was stabbed to death in Tufnell Park last night.

Yesterday, 21:15

Champions League Group B: Inter Milan 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Yesterday, 19:27

Sam Robson’s first century of the season saw Middlesex get the better of the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match with Derbyshire at Lord’s.

Yesterday, 17:00

Centre-back Sean Cronin says Wingate & Finchley’s defenders are commited to improving their goal tally as much as their forwards, but admits it’s more imperative that they maintain a consistency with keeping clean sheets after recording their first shut-out of the campaign in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Merstham.

Most read Hampstead & Highgate etcetera

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now