The Tricycle Theatre has had a lot of good press recently, including the success of West End transfer, Hangbagged, which seems a testimony to the venues programming skills. Having just moved into a house about 300ft away from the theatre I have been very keen to see a show here. I am happy to say that new play, Circles, has got my relationship with my local off to a fantastic start.
Brought to the stage by the all powerful and ever remarkable Birmingham Repetory Theatre Company, Circles is the tale of an unlikely friendship against a backdrop of domestic violence and bad decisions.
Birmingham born Rachel De-lahay is a very promising writer who explores socio-politics in gritty pieces of urban theatre. Circles is no exception, with the plot largely unfolding on the number 11 bus “circling” Birmingham. De-lahay once again shows her creative flair as she merges two storylines, one of a developing friendship and one of a decaying mother daughter relationship, into two interweaving circles. Similarly mirroring the title of the show, the narrative is somewhat cyclical, heightening the “doomed” nature of those born into violence and poverty. De-lahay had me gripped from the first scene, all the way through the twists and turns of the play.
As I have come to expect from the BRTC, there is some real acting talent on the stage. Toyin Omari-Kinch is a true star in the making. He filled every inch of his character, Malachi’s, boots (or..um..nike trainers?!) Overflowing with bravado yet both funny and sweet, I was utterly absorbed in his performance. Similarly fantastic were Sarah Manners and Janice McKenzie as mother-daughter duo Angela and Phyllis. McKenzie’s stunted movement and reserved persona were a great theatrical contrast to Manners’ fluctuating emotions. It became very clear both characters were in pain, both interlay and externally.
Director Tessa Walker worked some staging wonders as she interspersed the storylines to great theatrical effect whilst also succeeding to generate the perfect degree of pitch and pace.
Perhaps my favourite performance of the night came from the design team, with set by Bob Bailey, lighting by Simon Bond and sound by Becky Smith. All scenographic elements worked in harmony to present the disharmony of a vandalised bus stop. Perspex panels were scratched with an array of graffiti, summoning the lowly urban backdrop with ease. What I liked most is that the set perfectly reflected the tragedy of each character, who are all the vandals of their own happiness.
The Tricycle Theatre is a great creative space with a nice bar and lovely, intimate theatre. Circles is Birmingham Rep at its thought provoking finest. I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Kilburn to see this production while it is in London.
Circles runs until the 14th June 2014