Up and coming writers show off their work at the annual Camden Fringe Festival this August and Bradley Middleton steals the show with ‘Katherine: a short life’, the story of a 20 something’s suicide and the reaction it generates.
Starting at the end with Katherine’s alcoholic demise, the fast-moving play captures the range and depth of responses to the life and death of a young woman.
The sharpness of Middleton’s writing is matched by the outstanding performance of Molly Harris as Katherine. With unpretentious subtlety neither the writer nor the lead actress allow the audience to fully grasp who Katherine is, instead her innocence and complexity give way to depression and confusion, most disturbingly expressed as a humiliating verbal and physical attack on her domineering boyfriend (Jack McNaught).
Middleton and Harris succeeded in creating an enigmatic Katherine in this short play, but it is the moments of levity that allow the script to flow, providing the necessary contrast to Katherine’s melancholy. Two materialistic and obnoxious former colleagues of Katherine’s (Kim Lyzba and Christina Canning) provide the comedy and are used to good effect as the other end of the spectrum, while Katherine’s mother and brother (Frida Emilie Moss and Sam Kozlowski) give the story balance and substantial depth to the main character.
Added to this are the appearance of Katherine’s long lost friend (Alicia Bloundele), the eerily effective use of a voice recording of Katherine’s therapist expertly exonorating herself for any failings in her own work, and the minimalist use of live musicians.
The success of ‘Katherine’ comes from its nonlinear script, which never confuses but instead grips the audience as the play flows through time, back and forth from hope to tragedy via the mundane reality of suburban office life.
The play ends with a younger Katherine, full of youthful enthusiasm and love, a final twist that leaves the audience feeling that they have witnessed the beginnings of significant careers for both the writer and lead actress.
Director: Alicia Bloundele.
Written by: Bradley Middleton.
On Friday 19th August at the Etcetera Theatre above The Oxford Arms, Camden Town, 4.30pm as part of Kingston University’s MA showcase.
Bradley Middleton’s next play, ‘Misery Tree’, will be on at the Rose in Kingston in November. Watch this space for more info…