Review: Free Fall – a tale of two struggles on Dartford Bridge

Reviewed by Barbara Wojtowicz

Free Fall is the first full length play delivered by the Poleroid Theatre and funded through Kickstarter. It tackles the difficult subject of the human psyche, emotions and struggle.

The story by Vinay Patel invites the audience to engage in a much needed conversation about Mental Health . It challenges the stigma that is often attached to mental health issues in our society. We follow the characters along a journey which is effective in showing how everyone can be pushed to their limits and be tipped over the edge into free fall, a decision to end it all.

The piece is about suicide. A topic many of us avoid, not knowing what to say or how to react to the people involved. We mainly see mental health problems through a lens only understanding the dry concepts explained in text books and by medical experts. The play lays it out in a very simple, human and honest way.

The theater was small and intimate with the audience sitting up close and personal to the actors and the stage. It could have been an uncomfortable evening, but that intimacy somehow made you feel safe. It didn’t feel like the scenes unfolding on the stage were in your face but instead gave a sense of inclusion. Your impression was that you were participating in the story; standing next to the actors as their narratives unfolded.

Minimalist, almost raw stage-design and basic props proved that a great piece of theatrical art can be created without flashing lights and special effects. A superb performance can be achieved with great acting and literally two chairs on the stage.

The story happens at the Dartford Crossing where a disturbed girl, Andrea (Molly Roberts), is attempting to jump off the bridge. She is spotted by a security guard, Roland (Maynard Eziashi), who with problems of his own still offers her help her.  The tale of new friendship moves from the bridge into Roland’s office where details of both of their lives and their sufferings are revealed.

The humour is black and sharp. Some of the monologues, at times, seem too long. But they redeem themselves through the honesty and strength of the dialogue. No punches are pulled; emotions flow through every line and are delivered with a spark of passion.

The language used is powerful, frank and open, with its vulgarity at times highlighting the difficult choices the characters are faced with. The interplay between the actors creates electricity on the stage; their acting making the feel every moment on that bridge next to them. This creates an opportunity for the audience to stand in their shoes, as much as you can, and to perhaps think about how these situations play out in real life and how we might react to them.

The script provides the perfect insight into the mind of a person wanting to commit suicide and balances it well with the actions of a person trying to save them. The subject although heavy and difficult, somehow shows the story with lightness and gives hope, avoiding the dry facts and medical terminology.

We never know how strangers might affect our lives and even save us. The play leaves you wondering “who actually saved who”?

14th October – 1st November 2014

Pleasance Theatre, Islington

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