The Secret Collector

Jack lives on an island where the community calls itself idyllic. Not just a community, but a family. But everyone has secrets. Byteback Theatre presents an enthralling production, with a script from Kailey McGowan, co-directed by Rachael Ash and Mary O’Neill.

The piece is visually stunning and the cast do an exceptional job.

Fragments of the story emerge like jigsaw pieces which (through repetition) we put together. Despite being written for a young cast, the script resists over-explaining and the narrative is well structured. This show will appeal to adults and young people alike with its high quality production values and well-polished performances.

The show hinges on Matthew Warren, who is very well cast as Jack, with strong performances from the ensemble and April Wells as Jack’s sister.

There is no set and young actors in grey clothing with red balloons create a sense of place, supported by an ambient and evocative sound design. The use of movement and some choral moments from the ensemble are very effective, although at times the meaning of the choreography was unclear. Despite this, the piece is visually stunning and the cast do an exceptional job.

Balloons are used symbolically. The bursting of a balloon conveys a secret discovered, a secret collected by Jack – and eventually in Jack’s case, a secret laid bare. Balloons are also popped in scenes that demonstrate moments where Jack loses empathy and kindness, or where he behaves cruelly. Was Jack always cruel or did it come from the life-changing moment in his past? And has he changed since, as he sees his secret among the secrets of others?

Many of the secrets of the island are mundane; some are profound. We hear the secrets of a teacher’s hypocrisy, a son’s abuse, a postman relieving his loneliness through letters. But what’s Jack’s secret? I solemnly swear to never tell a soul.

Reviews by Emma Gibson

theSpace @ Venue45

Love and Information by Caryl Churchill

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The Blurb

‘There are two kinds of secrets. The ones we keep from others and the ones we keep from ourselves’ (Frank Warren). Jack is a collector, but not of antiques, buttons or stamps... Jack is a collector of secrets. Fascinated by people’s happiness, excitement, darkness and shame, Jack begins a journey to unlock strangers' hidden truths and set them free. But what really lies beneath this obsession and how far is he willing to go to make his collection complete? Using beautiful movement and ensemble, Byteback Theatre return to the Fringe to tell this captivating and thrilling story.