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Parasites

August 9, 2019 | By | Reply More

★★★★☆    Raw emotion

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39): Sat 3–Fri 23 Aug 2019
Review by Hugh Simpson

There is brutality, but also considerable compassion, in Seesome Theatre and New Celts’ Parasites at theSpace on the Mile.

In James Harker’s new play, teenager Alicia makes one too many bad decisions, leading to her exclusion from school. This sets her on a path where others constantly put barriers in her way, while telling her that the choices are hers to make.

Mollie DeMar and Amy Adamson. Pic Seesome Theatre

The production is anchored by an astonishing performance by Mollie DeMar as Alicia. One of the best things about the play is that she is not represented as either a hapless victim or a calculating ne’er-do-well, but instead as a recognisable bundle of contradictions.

DeMar inhabits the role to an extraordinary degree, with a combination of attitude, frustration and fear emanating from her. The emotion is sometimes raw, but it is utterly human, and brilliantly done.

She is well supported by Amy Adamson and Katie MacDonald, who play the various supporting roles – a friend, a teacher, a lawyer and so on. These are done cleverly and with commendable versatility, so that it is always clear what is going on, and the characters are well delineated.

A couple of the interactions are too stereotypical in their depiction, but the quality of the performances glosses over this, aided in no small part by James Beagon’s direction, which is tightly focused and full of pace. This is demonstrated by the way that the changeovers between scenes have real purpose and energy, which is not often the case in such productions.

attention to detail

There is real attention to detail here, notably in Aimee Whyte’s costumes (and in the way costume changes are handled). There is also real forward momentum, amplifying the downward spiral of Alicia’s life and giving the production genuine tension.

Katie McDonald and Mollie DeMar. Pic Seesome Theatre

While the script can seem a little formulaic at times. As the title suggests, although Alicia is seen by sections of society as a ‘parasite’, taking but giving nothing back, the suggestion is that maybe it is other people – or the system itself – that are the bloodsuckers. This is a welcome corrective to the usual propaganda, but it is a little too pat.

Nevertheless, there are some things that are very fine about the writing, not least the way that each scene just takes us straight into the action with very little in the way of unnecessary exposition. There is a great deal going on in the play, and this highly focused, very accomplished production is thought-provoking, exhilarating and richly human.

Running time 55 minutes(no interval)
theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39); 80 High St, EH1 1TH
Saturday 3 – Friday 23 August 2019
Odd dates only at 12.25 pm
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/parasites

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Amy Adamson and Mollie DeMar. Pic Seesome Theatre

ENDS

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