This is a story that describes events between a couple who go through hell and back again while having disabilities.
Alice (played by Genevieve Barr) is deaf, and Phil (portrayed by Arthur Hughes) has a deformity in his right arm, which points out that no one can escape tragedy, and all of us have the same feelings when it comes to coping with a traumatic event in our lives. The Solid Life of Sugar Water pushed boundaries from the start, created a few laughs, but the length of the production exceeded its limit for what the concept was about.
The Solid Life of Sugar Water was written by the renowned writer Jack Thorne – whose credits include Shameless, Skins, This is England 88 and 90, etc., receiving BAFTA awards for Best Drama – tells the story of two strangers who met at a post office. Alice noticed Phil carrying a ‘big package’ which he was lifting in front of her, with no metaphor intended, she often remarked. Thorne’s style of edginess, rawness and in-the-now drama came through instantly, with dialogue being unashamedly coarse and story-telling that was vivid and cutting. There were definitely flashes of Jack’s previous writing coming through this production, which is great to see.
Arthur Hughes had an unbeatable energy as he spoke with clarity and enthusiasm throughout each and every scene, with brilliant characterisation and on-point movement. Genevieve Barr played Phil’s wife, Alice, and her portrayal was also very good. She showed great comedic timing and displayed an array of facial expressions that grabbed the audience’s attention.
It was a really good watch, but also nerving with the talk of still-birth, particularly when Alice was seen figuratively giving birth to a baby who they already knew was dead, and both ‘parents’ played the roles very well, exposing true emotion to the darkest scenes.
However, the dialogue was over-drawn, repetitive and sometimes the meaning was hard to grasp, for it was broken and jumpy. The action ran for over 80 minutes, and with a cast of two, with one plot. It became hard to keep focus on what was being told, even though what the actors did was great.
The Solid Life Of Sugar Water plays at The Birmingham Rep until 6th Feb, 0121 236 4455
by Alex DaSilva | @AlexMDaSilva