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Assembly Roxy

For many people there are challenges in life most of us never have to face. In fact usually we are completely oblivious to these problems, and their mere existence seems a very distant and abstract concept. Others however live with them on a day-to-day basis, and have to endure them through their whole lives. For them, these challenges are physical reality. Downs with Love, as I got to experience it at Assembly Roxy, was an eye opening performance that made sure I will never forget about those people again and did it in an absolutely charming way with a performance full of love and enthusiasm.

My first contact with the play happened before it even started. Walking through the entrance hall I noticed that nearly half of the audience were people with Down’s syndrome. This was quite strange for me as I rarely (if ever) see them represented in theatre audiences and made my mind wander in the direction of how confined their lives really are, which turned out to be a theme of the show. This consistency of the audience played an enormous role in the whole experience, which I realized would be the case when the theatre hall went black before the start, and for a moment anxious and scared yells could be heard. The audience was completely alive throughout the show and every emotion rippling through the seats was audible: tear-jerking laughter for humour, loud sighs for romance, and angry yells for injustice displayed on stage. Never before have I experienced such liveliness while sitting on a theatre chair. The incredible range and strength of emotions turned this night into a truly unique experience. Not being used to such emotional roller coasters I left the theatre with watery eyes and true joy and gratitude towards Cutting Edge Theatre for their mission of “bringing theatre to people who may not usually have access to it.”

Although for me the experience was whole and complete with the contribution from the audience, the play itself was the heart-warming performance of a very clear and polished concept. For one and a half hours I got to peek into the out-of-the-ordinary life of Beth, a young woman with Down’s exceptionally entertainingly portrayed by Abigail Bryndon, and follow her through the struggles of building new relationships in the frame of her strict weekly routine. The portrayal of this humdrum routine is well assisted by the movement on stage by Tony Mills, which is the main tool creating the physical space of the play, as the scene is set up in a rather minimalistic way containing only three chairs for the actors to sit on. The performance of actors Katie Milne (Tracy) and Stephen Arthur (Mark) help to keep the flow of the play, which feels natural from the very beginning. Through the eyes of Suzanne Lofthus (Writer / Director), the story becomes a powerful performance that is so much more than another take on the classic love triangle.

Downs with Love is a truly unique experience that touches close to the heart, and a show that everybody should see if the chance presents itself.

Gergely Bori

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