DDF Review: Grace

★★★★☆

By

’s Grace explores the difficulties and trickeries of relationships, ranging from mothers and children to childhood friends to bad relationships. This play, already strong in the conception of each individual monologue, achieves greater relevance due to taking place in a pandemic. Despite a few tonal missteps and an occasional need for tightening up the scripts, Templeman and her cast achieve a brilliant showcase of Durham’s acting and writing talent.

Templeman is particularly good in establishing character. Even if, as in the case of ‘Enough’, we aren’t entirely sure what’s happening at the beginning of the speech, we are instantly able to understand and relate to these characters. As each monologue unfolds, Templeman demonstrates a talent for condensing highly emotional drama into a couple of minutes, and for taking the viewer on a rich and rewarding journey, with many repeated and heart-breaking references to earlier monologues scattered throughout. The three connecting monologues at the end of the piece stress this to the full.

All these aspects are done consistently well over a variety of settings, time periods and styles, and it’s clear that Templeman knows her characters back-to-front, which makes for a very rewarding watch.

these aspects are done consistently well

The cast, too, know their characters like the backs of their hands. Although the female monologues are the standouts—Templeman seems more connected to their characters, and the actors respond in kind—each performance is impressively detailed. achieves a strong mix of despair and uncertainty in ‘Credits’, and moves easily from extreme anger and resentment to heartbreak without breaking a sweat in ‘Newt’. Alana Mann is perfect casting for the gentle frustration of ‘Lunchbox’’s harried mother, convinces us easily of the fractured but loving relationship with herself and her off-screen son, and has a lovely delicacy of touch and attention to detail in her period piece. The back half of the production shows off the male performers’ talents. has a brilliant way of conveying deep emotions contextually, Jude Wegerer demonstrates his skills in comedy and pathos, and Izzy Mackie hers in combining emotional vulnerability and strength. delivers a remarkable, subtle performance that grows in stature when related to other pieces, and Jack De Deney a great storytelling ability.

Perhaps it might seem a bit silly to list actors in this way: but with such a strong cast, portraying such a strong group of characters, it would be stranger to ignore each of their achievements.

The creative production must also be commended. Templeman and her assistant director, Flo Lunnon, have clearly taken time over each monologue, achieving a fine level of detail. ’s gorgeous art is a welcome break between each piece, allowing for the viewer’s palette cleanser, and the editing and arrangement by Harry Clipston is well judged. There is clearly plenty of talent in front of and behind the camera.

The production isn’t perfect. Although the arrangement of the monologues allows for some great light and shade, occasionally the acting pushes these differences too far, at the expense of the realism of the piece. Similarly, some pieces might need a tad more editing to get them to their perfect form, and the inclusion of the word ‘grace’ is occasionally bit ham-fisted, even when the concept is beautifully explored within the piece: but to have an extended group of pieces at this level of quality is commendable.

‘Grace’ examines human relationships in all their forms, with a delicacy of touch and attention to detail across the production team and performers. So much care has been put into this; it’s paid off.

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