★★★★ | Unknown Male
Unknown Male depicts a tragic story of Heather who has recently got a job as train a conductor. All is very well. Until, after the tunnel, a person jumps off the platform on to her incoming train.
The story revolves around Heather and her coping mechanisms, or the lack of; Emily, her daughter who has been trying to comfort her mum, but unsuccessful, so she decides to investigate who the victim who was run over by her mum’s train; and Mark, Heather’s boyfriend, who also has trouble relighting Heather’s will to live, and deviates from the house to very familiar territory.
Unknown Male brings to the Rep Stage a topic that is rarely talked about, and if it is, then the story tends to emphasise the sympathy of the individuals who died under the train. However, Stephanie Ridings ambitiously captivates the audience with the other side of the story: the victim being the person who ran over the individual. Excellently portrayed and greatly realised under the direction of Nick Walker. Both visions equally combine the success in delving deep into the topic and expertly deliver the content where, with a quick glance at the audience, there was evidence of a few tears being shed with many eyes.
This was also achieved by the brilliant cast that consisted of Lorraine Stanley as Heather; Phoebe Frances-Brown as Emily; and Mark was played by Ged Simmons.
The three actors conveyed the emotions brilliantly. Particularly, Lorraine’s conveyance of Heather, whose emotion range was a phenomenon. Stanley portrays Heather more than convincingly, to the point of thinking one was sitting in the family’s front room with a feeling of awkwardness as the drama ensued. Ged did a sterling job with Mark, as he evidenced on stage what a person in his position might go through and the ability to explore the dark sides of a man whose world is ripping apart. Finally, Phoebe delights the spectators with her portrayal of a young teenager; the actress, of course is older than Emily, but she shows an innocence and defiance of Emily’s age in a subliminal way.
Stephanie Ridings does the Birmingham Rep Foundry proud, as she showcases the ability to create a piece of theatre in a way that transports the audience from a seat at The Door, to a seat inside Heather’s flat most magnificently, drawing every person on to the tragedy explored in Unknown Male.
The set was minimalist, but was used to great effect; especially in the very last scene, as it was converted to a train station platform, to which Emily is found standing over.