So my time as Live Theatre’s guest blogger has come to an end and for my final review I had the pleasure of seeing Paddy Campbell’s Day of the Flymo, a play which highlights the challenges of the care system and the effect it can have on the children and young people involved.
We follow 13-year old Liam and share his experiences while seeing the effect his behaviour has on his sister Becca and their mother Karen. Paddy Campbell includes narration of Liam’s case notes, read by his social worker Ben, and it is through these that we learn Ben’s concerns as well as the facts about Liam. Paddy cleverly incorporates this technique to share crucial information with the audience without breaking the flow of the play.
It is not surprising to learn that Paddy works in a children’s home as Day of the Flymo is full of intricate detail. Ben reveals (some of) Paddy’s knowledge as he interacts with other characters and the audience: he talks about the privatisation of the care sector and raises the question is it right to profit off the care for ‘difficult kids’? Even when discussing Liam’s case notes Ben keeps his professionalism by not breaking confidentiality and referring to Liam as simply L. And at times we see how difficult it can be even for the social workers, as Ben struggles to communicate with Liam’s mother and his poor choice of wording results in her anger.
Liam himself is an extremely complex character. On one level he is a troublemaker, an almost lost cause, having been expelled out of school and forced to attend the ‘Spacker school’. However Liam is funny and opens up to Clara, a girl from a ‘posh’ school, even sympathising with her and her problems. Through Clara Paddy highlights how some issues transcend upbringings and surroundings, and parallels can be drawn between Liam and Clara; although their worlds are very different they both have equally serious problems.
Live Theatre’s Youth Theatre truly shines in this production, as they make up three of the five cast members: Liam (Kalem Patterson), Becca (Tezney Mulroy) and Clara (Sophie Pitches). Even Liam’s mum Karen is played by a member of the Youth’s Theatre Alumni, Jill Dellow. All of the actors do well to capture their complex characters, making them likeable, funny, and the play all the more gut wrenching as we follow their stories. The play really shows how important the work Live Theatre does is, for it nurtures remarkable, young talent and Day of the Flymo is a showcase of what the Youth Theatre can achieve.
As I said at the start of this review, this marks the end of my time as Live Theatre’s guest blogger. It is a shame, but I have seen some incredibly diverse theatre and Day of the Flymo was a great play to finish on.
Review by Oisin Power