The selection of extracts from Imogen Usherwood’s ‘Meeting Point’ are nothing short of fantastic. Being the former Editor-in-Chief of Palatinate, it is unsurprising that Usherwood is a talented writer. The extracts are punchy and wake up audiences by slapping them their intimate and relatable content.
The opening extract shows Sadie (Hatty Tagart) taking a “complicated grief disorder assessment” which tries to systematically organise her emotions into categories of “never, rarely, sometimes, often or very often.” The online quiz is sassy, brilliantly voiced by Helena Baker, and Tagart’s growing frustration with the quiz is convincing. It feels as though the audience should not be witnessing this intimate moment while Sadie is seemingly alone, trying to determine her mental state; making the extract all the more intriguing.
The second extract involves Sadie talking seemingly to a friend, but her eye contact with the camera makes the text deeply personal, as it feels as though she is sharing private information with the audience. This monologue could be taken straight out of ‘Things I Know to Be True,’ with Tagart’s portrayal remaining deeply animate, despite remaining seated throughout. The text allows Tagart to demonstrate her acting range, as she shows moments of happiness, sadness, and all the little bits in-between.
The third extract offers a new character, the deeply nervous yet relatable Matt. Tom Cain excels in this performance, creating a kind character who attracts audiences. Throughout the performance, there was a desire to pull Matt aside and let him know that everything might be okay. His loveable nature is contagious, and lines such as “words I’ve learnt phonetically but don’t actually understand” are so memorable, making audiences sad to see only one extract from him.
Finally, audiences are drawn in immediately by the final extract, which involves a conversation between Sadie and her time-conscious therapist (Sean Alcock). Alcock’s Irish accent sounds natural and provides a contrast to the previously sole use of received pronunciation. Their conversation is surprisingly humorous, navigated by time, and with random lines such as “my cat died” and “do you have a cat.” Despite reflecting Sadie’s position as a compulsive liar, these lines further demonstrate Usherwood’s talent as a playwright as she finds humour in the sensitive topics.
Co-directors Imogen Usherwood and Hugo Millard, and Producer Sol Noya must be praised for this brilliant contribution to DDF and performance in general, during such a difficult time. ‘Meeting Point’ is short but certainly sweet, and an intense piece of new playwrighting to brighten up a lockdown day.
Image: Sol Noya