Open Return
  • By Elaine C
  • |
  • 30th May 2021
  • |
  • ★★★★

Throughout our lifetime we meet hundreds of different people. Every friend we make, no matter how brief that friendship is, will arrive in our life for a reason, season, or lifetime. Open Return has been set on the train journey between Edinburgh and St Pancras. The meeting of these two ladies at first appears to be one of those awkward train journeys with an annoying fellow passenger that many of us dread.

At first, appears to be one of those awkward train journeys...

Jenny (Caitlin Lavagna) bursts into Jean's (Sarah Rickman) life when she boards the train at Newcastle, shattering the silence. After a disastrous weekend at her friend’s hen-do, Jenny desperately wants to verbally offload the events that have taken place, and an incident with the stripper that caused a rift between her and her friends. Jean is resistant to talking to her at first and wants to be alone in her thoughts. However, as Jenny talks at her for a while the conversations start to become less one sided, and we slowly learn that these two strangers share a similar experience at the hands of abusive partners.

Why do we sometimes open a part our lives to a stranger? Could it be down to the fact that for a moment in time you are talking to someone who does not come to the situation with any prior knowledge of the past or emotional investment in your life. Allowing the other to off load safely in the knowledge that whatever they say is likely to remain within the confines of their conversation.

Apart from the odd train announcement there are no visual indications that the pair are on a train. The performance relies on the audience suspending their disbelief and focusing on the conversation and body language rather than the visual setting. This is successfully achieved in my opinion by Ben Worth's humorous, caring, and thought-provoking script. His understanding of the psychology into how abuse works and manifests the doubts into the victim’s psyche which allows the abuser ultimate control until one day something snaps.

Director Lotte Johnson has done a commendable job creating a situation performance using the zoom platform. From positioning Jenny and Jean in front of their cameras to appear like they are facing each other on the train to ensuring they had similar coloured backgrounds. It's this attention to details in the continuity that add to the enjoyment of watching performances on screen.

Sadly, this production has a short run. It is worth trying to catch it before it ends.

Reviews by Elaine C

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Dandelion

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Wish List

★★★★

Since you’re here…

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You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Open Return Two women cross paths on a journey from Edinburgh to London that takes them much further than they ever could have imagined. In an exchange that is heart wrenching, hilarious, ridiculous and beautiful, these two strangers share a much deeper connection than they ever could have imagined. A comedy drama with a huge heart at its centre, audiences are describing Open Return as “A stunning, beautiful production" “... exciting and intriguing... ” and "...a brilliant piece of theatre..."

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