We all have secrets to keep. But what if you had a secret that was so terrible, that you could not say anything to anyone in case you were not believed? Alice was one of many who have a secret like this and in The Doll Who Came To Tea, we saw how damaged she was.
a big highlight of Brighton Fringe with a very strong future ahead of it
Using mixed media, including using our mobile phones and headphones so we could hear the voices in Alice's head as she heard them, plus videos of real life stories to raise awareness that this does happen behind closed doors, there was a sense of horror as the reality gradually unfolded. What particularly worked alongside the strong performance was the clever use of breaking the fourth wall with the two actresses talking to the audience and their stage manager taking us on the emotional journey portrayed. This included pointedly that we listen on our headphones at a certain point and what videos to show. It may seem to some that this was a rather odd thing to do by breaking the action, but if anything it actually added to the fragmented mindset of Alice and I think this needs to be made more inclusive in the show.
Louisa Delaluz, who played Alice, threw herself completely into the role and was not afraid to show the vulnerability of this woman who tried to shut out the voices in her head that were swimming around trying to bring her down. All she wanted to do was celebrate her 50th birthday with a doll named after her late sister. The way she portrayed Alice was so insightful and realistic that all the side effects of the trauma as it was referred to were so natural and easy to connect with. Even the interactions she had with a food delivery woman and the smart-meter installed (two separate characters played by Eire O'Halloran) showed that all she wanted to do was speak about what happened to someone... anyone, so she could be free.
The doll seemed to be a simple but dramatic device that reflected trying to keep the past alive, as well as a way to allow Alice to be reminded of all that happened to her. This not only helped us to engage with how Alice felt, but more importantly the fact that she wanted to stay in a child-like state to close that part of her life and it worked well because of that symbolism.
This play may be a work in progress, but it already is a big highlight of Brighton Fringe with a very strong future ahead of it. This is one to watch out for and is not for those who are easily triggered by trauma.