Patch of Blue’s production of
When We Ran has potential to explore compelling themes and fuse various mediums in original ways
The story concerns two sisters Ela Rose (Lizzie Grace) and Ela Iris (Alexandra Simonet) living in an isolated cult completely cut off from the outside world. When Ela Iris falls ill and the ‘Elders’ fail to help her, Rose realises they need to escape to ‘the Out’ so she can take her to a hospital and so, with the help of Ela Frederick (Tom Collandis), they escape. The story juggles themes of isolation, alienation, indoctrination, knowledge, and friendship. However, the acting and dialogue are consistently melodramatic and the directorial decision to cast a sentimental shadow over all events in the play make nuance, subtlety, and the genuine examination of these themes impossible.
The production is choreographed so the cast constantly switch from acting to playing music. The cast of seven appear to be a group of actors and multi-instrumentalists and all play an array of instruments, jumping from one thing to another. Alex Brain goes from her role as an earnest narrator to a comedic character to sitting on and playing the cajon, while Casey Jay Andrews paints a triptych for no apparent reason. This ultimately confuses and distracts from the potential power of the play and it is simply another example of the production being spread too thin. Although the cast are all talented in certain areas, the quality of acting and musicianship varied considerably and the cracks in individual performances was made more apparent by this constant swapping and changing. Moreover, the exploration of the nuances of each character was substituted to ensure all play at least three instruments. The only person who managed to maintain a high level of both was George Damms, whose emotional intensity as Ela John created the most powerful moments in the production. Comparatively Lizzie Grace’s portrayal of Ela Rose, as a naive and unworldly girl experiencing everything in the outside world for the first time, seemed to parody itself.
When We Ran has potential to explore compelling themes and fuse various mediums in original ways but this production gets the balance completely wrong and substitutes style for substance in a way which resembles the production of an overexcited student rather than an established theatre company.