"The cast in general more than live up to the challenges posed by the material"Photo/ Jack Ward

Crave is the kind of play that actors and directors take on out of a real love for the script. Powerful, challenging, and as dark as it is lyrically beautiful, the text demands an inventive and sensitive response from every new creative team. Director Jack Ward’s Crave is an emotionally charged, original staging that uses movement and sound to create moments of startling intensity.

“An emotionally charged, original staging”

Following four unnamed characters, A, B, C and M, Crave is difficult in part because of its ambiguity: it is often unclear who the characters are addressing, if anyone. Ward and assistant directors Elizabeth Laurence and Ilona Sell have the characters talking to each other. It’s an effective decision that grounds the often abstract conflicts of the play in the real world, and gives the cast a chance to show off their great chemistry.

Their production is a dynamic, visually engaging one, full of moving parts. Characters touch, embrace, and create a variety of formations on stage. Crucially, Ward’s use of movement means that this Crave never risks becoming spoken word poetry. The final product is something like a dance, with periods of motionlessness that draw our attention back to the dialogue. These pertinent choices help to vary up the tone, and give the play a clear narrative through-line.

Sound designer Talulah Thomas uses a variety of soundscapes to give Kane’s wandering piece a clear structure. Gurgling pipes soundtrack C’s slow mental break-down, and music injects more dynamic moments are injected with a frenetic energy.

Ward’s willingness to allow the cast to play with their own interpretations of the text means that this production of Crave feels fresh and original. As discussed in the Varsity preview, the reinterpretation of C and B’s relationship as one between transwomen means that certain lines are invigorated with a new meaning.

“Each actor delivers an emotionally complex performance”

The cast in general more than live up to the challenges posed by the material. Each actor delivers an emotionally complex performance. Jaden Tsui as B has the rawness and vulnerability to carry off lines like ‘If you died it would be like my bones had been removed’. Bella Ridgwell’s rhythmic, understated delivery of perhaps the most well-known monologue moment in Crave – beginning ‘I want to play hide-and-seek. . .’ transfixes us. Charli Cowgill injects a lot of energy into the production with her characterisation of M as a breezy, emotionally detached free spirit.

The difficult themes present in the script ask for a lot of sensitivity from the actors, not least from India Lewis, who carries off her emotionally intense role with a maturity that hits hard as we race towards the production’s conclusion.

Overall, the show’s most hopeful moments spring out of moments of heartwarming interaction between the characters. The cast and crew craft a clear narrative out of an at times uneven and difficult text. Perhaps most impressive is their realisation of four grippingly real people, whose relationships to each other propel us through a heated fifty minutes.


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Crave is playing at the Corpus Playroom from Tuesday 8th March - Saturday 12th March.