Review: Touch by Suffragette Theatre Company

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Vicky Jones’s Touch is described as ‘a glorious cocktail of sex and self-discovery’ and was transferred onto the AR stage as a fruity cocktail of masterful acting and laughs. A play that strikes women of many ages and society itself in many ways – from relating to Dee herself or the passers-by in her so-called ‘messy’ life. 

The play starts with the interaction between Eddie (played by Alex Bittar) and Dee (played by Maddie Clark). As we have seen Bittar in previous comedies, he did not fail to exceed the comedic traits of his lines. His comedic timing was faultless, every mannerism that he delivered was in sync with Clark’s reactions. He portrayed his character to be the classic toxic boyfriend seeing his tactics of manipulation and taunting to strip Dee of her emotional appearance. Following Bittar, we have who played Miles. Miles as a character allows us to see into the taboo segment of kink. Renouf’s soft movements allowed his character to have a calmness against everyone else’s. His eye freezing was spot-on, his eyes were constantly locked on to Clark’s ensuring the audience’s focus – professional and slick. 

Bittar’s comedic timing was faultless, every mannerism that he delivered was in sync with Clark’s reactions

A fresh face to DST, Zack Morris-Jones played Paddy — gave a fresh zing to the performance. Jones inhabited his character very well; it was clear to the audience he was embodying the youth but the power struggle in play when it comes to being in a relationship with an older person. At times, he could have opened his body more to the audience and relaxed his stature – but altogether he gave credit to his character and the performance. The audience could not stop laughing at moments when he was on stage. 

who played Vera gave a cathartic performance. There was a sense of danger to Vera — which was clear in the behaviourisms of Dee. The chemistry between Clark and Painter was so fresh and raw – I would like to see more of this in future DST productions. Painter’s delicate but rigid facial expressions allowed us to complete our sexuality and the past situations we have conformed to and from that question society’s expectations of a ‘normal’ relationship. as Sam sealed the deal with this cast — he gave a northern feel to this cast — embodying the backwater nature of society amongst the cosmopolitan characters we see at play. His frantic movements and breath measured to the cynical ex-boyfriends we all have had to deal with. Despite his eyes wandering a lot when focused on Clark’s, he established himself wonderfully in the show. 

The chemistry between Clark and Painter was so fresh and raw — I would like to see more of this in future DST productions

Finally, a credit to who transformed herself completely into Dee. Her performance was exceptional — she showed an incredible range with her humour but skilfully transitioned into the tender moments with sophisticated naturalism. The brilliant direction of and ADs and in the climatic movement scene where Dee is cleaning her room – was fabulous. To the decision of the song, and the throwaway of the blanket hitting each beat to the point where she gives in to temptation – wonderfully executed. I could not keep my eyes off Clark’s movements as each had a clear intention — where we see her pick up a half-eaten bagel or the instinct to grab a wine glass. Each thought process was clear and flawless. 

Frank’s careful and seamless direction of each moment was illuminated throughout — utilising each aspect of the set to its full utility. Each theme was explored carefully, however, there could have been more exploration to class and how that fits in amongst Miles and Sam’s character — as I could see a push and pull effect between these two stories. Renouf’s lines reflect a debate that should be addressed more in theatre. Franks with the help of Calvert and Watts should be proud as they have successfully made a piece of theatre that showcases comedy and vulnerability at its peak. 

Frank’s careful and semless direction of each moment was illuminated throughout — utilising each aspect of the set to its full utility

In terms of the set, it is laid out to your eyes as soon as you walk in – garnished with bottles of wine, piles of clothes, bagels, letters – everything that a classic messy flat has. All props on stage were used in sync with each line and movement — a lot of props can fault a production but at this stage, it elevated Suffragette’s production. The music and lighting used between each scene were masterful, however, it did get a bit irritating by the end as some transitions were quicker or longer. But the choice of music used in scenes with Dee cleaning her room or dancing with Paddy was great. The lighting choices used were nice, especially the fairy lights that are on during the transitions. There was one lighting delay, but it did not slow down the fluidity of this electric performance. 

Overall, ‘Touch’ as described in the director’s notes is truly a love letter to a single woman. It questions feminism, typical relationships, temptation and human nature. It brings a new vulnerability to Durham’s audience. The cast and production team have done an amazing job and it would be a waste to not see this play.

Go grab some M&M’s and a cheeky drink and watch these actors fall in love, laugh, debate and stretch mindsets in the Assembly Rooms Theatre today. 

Image credit: Suffragette Theatre Company

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