The Shape of the Pain

China Plate’s The Shape of the Pain is an innovative artistic and scientific collaboration combining words, sound and projection to start a conversation about Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS). Based on director Rachel Bagshaw’s own experience of the condition, Chris Thorpe writes of one woman’s struggle to articulate her understanding of feeling in consistent agonising pain.

So haunting and visceral, that it stains the mind long after the show has ended.

Hannah McPake is absolute in her presence in the space flanked by intimidatingly large metal panels catching and reflecting the lights. McPake is eloquent and toneless in her delivery, which is effectively chilling when giving the description of the pain – seen, heard and felt in shapes and colours. This imagery is brought into existence through the powerful collaboration of Melanie Wilson’s original score and Joshua Pharo’s lighting and projection. With the aural and visual inception, the audience are hurled right into the pain with McPake, and stay immersed, open-mouthed in this sensory experience for the duration of the performance.

After a mind-blowing first half of the show, it does not continue to take us anywhere. We are stuck with McPake and her cold indifference, lost in the words and sound of the pain. Every time it comes to the end, it starts up again and we are going through another stream of words, sweeping projections and shadows cast by the flare of lights. This may indeed be a metaphor symbolising the pain and it’s waves of harassment, but it is taxing on the audience’s patience when we feel we are being starved of any satisfactory conclusion, and instead are listening to a reiterated speculation. By the second half, we have adjusted to the overwhelming ingenuity of the technical aspects of the production, and have spent enough time with McPake that we begin to interpret her icy detachment as bitter and sullen. The narrative begins to stagnate and becomes directionless.

Still, Bashaw and Thorpe’s production is so haunting and visceral, that it stains the mind long after the show has ended. 

Reviews by Isabella Javor

Theatre Royal Haymarket

The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas

★★★★
Bush Theatre

Parliament Square

★★★
The Royal Court Theatre

Goats

★★
Trafalgar Studio 2

The Red Lion

★★★★
Paradise in The Vault

Pharmacophilia

★★★
Assembly Roxy

Wondr

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

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.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

‘I don't have to remember being in pain. I'm not sure that's something we can do. And in my case, it's irrelevant. You can't remember something that's still happening.’ One woman attempts to articulate her experience of physical pain. Pain with no apparent cause. Also, she’s met someone, and they want to make this work. A new show from a Fringe First award-winning team exploring life in extremity and the joy that can be found there. Commissioned by Battersea Arts Centre/The New Wolsey Theatre. Supported by artsdepot. Funded by The Wellcome Trust.

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets