Écoute Theatre Company bring a new voice to UK’s carers in this thought provoking verbatim performance. The piece is incredibly well researched and shines a fresh light on an important group of people who are often overlooked or misperceived by society.
The show’s underlying message has a political basis and a profound morality; there is a piquant element of currency. Interviews conducted by Écoute with a large number of professional and informal carers across Britain are brought to life by a talented cast. This solid foundation in reality has a hard-hitting effect and makes each character all the more emotive. Take Care seems so real that it will engage any audience, both those who have a personal connection with carers of the elderly, and those new to the block.
As a sequence of monologues, however, after fifty minutes the audience is left a little weary. This is solely due to a structural flaw; each speech is engaging, and each interviewee perfectly characterised, but most of them make similar points on the same topic. This does not detract from the show’s success as an advocate for UK carers but does mean that it has a repetitive element.
Fortuitously, the skill of the actors does offset this to a significant extent. The cast of four are a strong troupe who bring a subtle naturalism to their cameos. With minimal set and costume, personas are fabricated with great dexterity through voice and physicality. Zoe Templeman-Young gives a particularly convincing depiction of a nervous young carer and all speakers have clear, individual personalities. A good technique is employed in having other members of the cast in the background miming what is being described in the speeches – the result is seriously moving. The show would, in fact, benefit from this being done more often, but it is sufficient to visually reiterate the frailty of the infirm elderly in a stirring way.
Écoute will be expanding this production and it has the potential to become something truly great.