The Space on the Isle of Dogs continues its practice of supporting new talent with Helium, an original work by Grumble Pup Theatre, a fledgling company founded in the Black Country, written by James Turner and directed by Izzy Carney.

as the cast warm to their roles a real sense of drama emerges

The play is inspired by what they describe as ‘the true story of a 91-year-old death dealer’. Four characters, Chloe (Elspeth Goodman), Ben (Steven Nguyen), Kate (Mollie McManus) and David (Thomas Sparrow), whose lives are intertwined and variously related, try to find a way out of the complicated messes they find themselves in. It might be a question of reconciling differences and coming to terms with past mistakes or it could be that making a more radical decision would provide a permanent way out. Each has to make a decision and they all have to face the consequences of what they and others decide to do. To interpret life and to explain its complexities, the seemingly well-meaning Judith (Sara Dee) appears on the scene offering, or perhaps peddling, a solution that throws yet another spanner in the works.

A rather lacklustre and understated opening belies what is to come. With the story unfolding the complexities of their situations become clear and as the cast warm to their roles a real sense of drama emerges in which they each make their contributions in a balanced and well-matched piece of casting. While the four take on the immediacy and urgency of their plights and the issues they must face, Dee maintains an air of calm persistence throughout.

Within the confines of the available space,Technical Stage Manager Eliott Sheppard has done a fine job in creating the locations for the alternating scenes. Carney has similarly managed to create a cohesive piece of theatre, using the story to bring out both calm intimacy and raging confrontaion.

No doubt the experience of performing and staging Helium will lead to further work and development on it. Let’s also hope that more original pieces are forthcoming from this promising troupe.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

A brand new play by Grumble Pup Theatre, a fledgling company led by talented young artists who are dedicated to bring powerful new writing to the stage. Inspired by the true story of Sharlotte Hydorn, a 91-year-old who made headlines in the 2010s for selling homemade suicide kits, no questions asked, Helium is a challenging exploration of coping, hope, and loneliness that dares to delve into the rationale behind our most unthinkable acts.

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