Grieving is a universal human experience, and
Moving and poignant, The Other Half Lives is a piece of new writing which succeeds in exploring heavy subject matter.
This is, at its heart, a story about how a family continue to be a family after the loss of their son and brother. Josh’s parents, Leo and Maria (Eddie Cunningham and Sophie Brook respectively) have split up in the aftermath of the tragic incident. They convey their bittersweet loss of love effectively, but unfortunately their diction makes it difficult to hear what they are saying at integral moments.
The relationship between Josh’s sister and his best friend is conveyed commendably by Lucinda Brown and Jim Stretton. Brown has commanding stage presence, talking to her therapist (played by Ben Cresswell) about the death of her brother with dignity and the understanding necessary to tackle such difficult subject matter. Despite the passing of time, Josh’s best friend is still a huge part of the family’s life, caring deeply for them. He also acts as comic relief, telling jokes and injecting humour into the serious script. Unfortunately, some of these jokes did fall flat and undermine more serious moments.
The stage is split into two halves; their family living room and the office of Clive, Georgia’s therapist. Due to this method of staging, the elongated blackouts between scenes were unnecessary and jarring, as they could have easily utilised lighting changes to convey a change in time and space. The actors also exited and re-entered the stage frequently and needlessly; between this and choosing to have multiple blackouts they slowed down the pace and immediacy of the character’s actions.
Written and directed by Daisy Milner, this play effectively portrays the grieving process, but is unfortunately over-acted at points. The actors struggle to convey the emotion in this piece of new writing, and fail to build tension at the right moments, resulting in an anticlimactic end to what could have been an extremely moving show.
Moving and poignant, The Other Half Lives is a piece of new writing which succeeds in exploring heavy subject matter. Despite flaws in both the staging and in the performance of the actors, this play is still well-written and, for the most part, is an accomplished portrayal of grief.