This Wednesday saw the Mustard Tree drama group take to the stage for the first time at the wonderful Salford Arts Theatre. The following is a review written by a couple of Mustard Tree-ers, Kailum Carolan and Hannah Grennan.
The race for life was performed and devised by volunteers and clients of the Mustard Tree. As a group it was there first time on a professional stage and although it wasn’t perfect it was fun, heart warming and probably the most enjoyable night we’ve had at the theatre in a while.
The play began with the famous rocky anthem blaring out towards the crowd the actors came on and the race for life began. With a daft “chav” like interview and a slow motion run to rival Baywatch it was entertaining from the off. Then the story took a turn, you quickly realised this wasn’t just a race, the race symbolised each individual running from their troubles and insecurities. The problems the characters faced ranged from alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness to a problem many of us face, the desire to succeed. Speaking to the cast after the show, many of them had drawn from their own lives and experiences to the narrative making the play all the more heartfelt and touching.
The idea of bronze, silver and gold were used as a metaphor towards each individual’s road to recovery. On stage, different scenes took place to portray the hurdles they faced on the road to recovery. We enjoyed the realism, showing the audience that the race to recovery is not easy and quick; you may stumble and fall on your path to recover, that is ok as long as you get back up, re-focus and aim for the bronze, the first step again. The play, like recovery, didn’t go without a hitch, there were a few stumbles with lines and on-stage positions but we can forgive these first time actors as these minor mistakes made the play even more endearing to watch.
Speaking to members of the audience after the play, everyone seemed to have really enjoyed ‘Race for Life’ and through watching prompted discussions about the themes in the play. The aim of theatre, if nothing else, is about getting people talking and thinking about serious issues. Janet Wong (Volunteer Coordinator and Administrator at Mustard Tree) said she was “really impressed with the quality of the actors and the courage it takes to perform in front of your peers in a professional environment.” One of the directors, Rosario Walsh, said she was “proud of the cast being able to portray their own experiences and take ownership over the show.”
Overall, it was a great experience watching these amateur actors take to the stage for the first time. We feel everybody could take something from the play and use it to focus and race towards achieving their own individual goals. We look forward to the next one!