On the evening of the 22nd of March, Exeter was transported to Stockport, glimpsing into a world of Northern dialects, teenage anxieties and gritty drama. With a passionate and compelling cast from EUTC leading the show, the audience watched Billy and Rachel grow up in a town, a town that fills them simultaneously with joy and unease. As the audience delved deeper into the characters minds and difficult situation, we too felt these range of emotions, swinging on a pendulum between laughter and pain and back again that resulted in a standing ovation.
The play possessed a lick of grit and angst, similar to a scene of Eastenders, in which domestic issues are raised and teenage heartbreak drives the plot. This sense of grittiness was enhanced by the location in Maketank, which resembled an artistic warehouse. Despite being in a large room, the audience felt connected to the characters by situating the actors on the same level a few feet in front of us.
play possessed a lick of grit and angst
This sense of intimacy was one of the play’s huge achievements. At times the audience felt like a peeping Tom, gazing voyeuristically into the lives of Billy, Rachel and their dysfunctional parents. As we watched Billy cry and look out towards the audience, one could not escape the desire to reach out and console him. Likewise, when Rachel’s abusive husband was charging at her, one felt the need to protect her and relocate her to an easier time.
The painful emotions aside, ‘Port’ was also a lightly humorous play. This sense of joy was created mainly in the first half, in which Billy and Rachel grew from young children into teenagers, bringing the ‘joys’ of sibling rivalry onto the stage. During this half we were provided with a glimpse into Billy’s young mind that is full of imagination and creativity. His sense of naivety was conveyed in moments like this, exclaiming to Rachel:
“As if she played for Man U and she was a girl!”
It was a testimony to the actors who were able to convincingly capture the essence of young children despite being university students. As they entered childhood, the actors highlighted the pain and excitement that comes from being a teenager, teenagers that are full of lust and anger.
the actors…were able to convincingly capture the essence of young children
‘Port’ poised the question of what home means to its inhabitants. For Rachel, she was not only scared of death and mortality but also of not being able to see the world outside of her Stockport horizon. As she suffered with feelings of claustrophobia, the audience also felt this, making me feel hot and tight when there were moments of distress. However, the play ended with a sense of hope as Rachel saw that “The sun is coming up”, highlighting that you take home with you wherever you go.