“Grief melts away like snow in May, as if there were no such cold thing”
Approaching the Custard Factory in Birmingham, I reflected on what a quirky and unusual venue it was for a 3Bugs performance. As I entered Market Hall (a warehouse-like space that often holds host to vintage clothing sales) I was wholly taken aback by the makeover that the place had been given. Exhibition-like, audience members ambled around the intricate set; gazing at the bold propaganda plastered across the walls, perhaps serving as a sort of prelude to the storyline that was about to captivate all.
For me, Naomi Wallace’s No Such Cold Thing provides the audience with a window, through which we are given the opportunity to peer upon three human beings caught up in the Afghanistan war, for a short forty minutes. After which, we are left blindly wondering about the millions of others in similar positions. The context of the piece is especially relevant today after it has recently been announced that British military will begin airstrikes in Syria. Thereby, without being blatantly didactic in her direction, director Beatrice Updegraff’s political aims were poignantly communicated. Even if the tale of two young Islamic girls pulled at the heartstrings now more than ever, it was a performance bursting with energy and passion.
Lizzie Roberts, Mia Rose Jacobs and Josh Bluer must be commended for their captivating and touching performances. It must have certainly been a challenge to depict such complex characters but they were played with a truthful and affecting conviction. I imagine it must have been tempting to become somewhat melodramatic at points, but this was resisted, making the piece all the more poignant.
Although most of the audience were seated on opposite sides of the action on chairs, there was also the option to enjoy the performance from within a rubber dinghy. This was just one of the components that amounted to such a fresh and innovative set. Besides directing the piece, Beatrice did a fantastic job of designing the set which was truly unique and reflected the play’s themes fittingly. Most of the floor was made of sand with three different sized sandbags which were later revealed as being dead bodies. The set’s simplicity gave a desolate and abandoned feel which tied in well with the powerful storyline.
In short, Beatrice Updegraff’s UK premiere of No Such Cold Thing is a striking performance and I would thoroughly recommend grabbing tickets if you haven’t already!