The Brink is a short play which portrays a young woman’s experience of having her first child, and the aftermath of dealing with post-natal illness. Written by Helen Jeffery and in association with the NHS, the play comes from first-hand experience, and further researched by interviews with women who have been in similar situations.
Holly, played by Leanna Martin, is the woman whose journey we are taken on. From first time expectant mother, right through to after the birth of her second child, we are witness to her changing life and many of the issues which arise.
Martin, has a great way of drawing the audience in by speaking to us directly, yet at the same time we feel as though we are a fly on the wall, an imposter who shouldn’t be invading this woman’s personal life, which can only be achieved when the acting is as sincere as hers. She really captured the emotion of the character and gave a very believable performance throughout. At times you felt as though you were watching a documentary and Martin proves herself to be a more than capable actress in this sort of role. The fact that many audience members were in tears on numerous occasions was credit to her genuinely sensitive approach. Whether you could relate to her situation or not, you could certainly appreciate the difficulties she and so many other women have had to face after giving birth. And in that sense it was an eye opener.
The lighting in this piece was simple but effective. You could feel the light closing in on Holly as she was feeling more and more trapped and this worked well. The sound was equally valid, but I was unsure about the music choice, notably the guy on the guitar. He played a few notes at the beginning, and some during scene changes, but I can’t say he really added anything to the piece. I feel it would have been more fitting had they had her listening to the radio for the music element instead.
The thing that bothered me, but I may be being pedantic, was some of the attention to detail. For example, the bump really didn’t look very realistic, the positioning and size didn’t seem right, especially for the stage of pregnancy she was in, and it was a little distracting. Furthermore, the size of the baby itself didn’t change at all, despite the passing of time. The baby remained the same size at both days old and seven months old, so again I found this disappointing.
The thing that sticks out to me about the play as a whole was how personal it was. There was no generalisation, it was clearly a real story about a real woman, therefore due credit to the script. The writing is so truthful and that comes across from the beginning. It is clearly a well-researched subject matter.
Jeffery, has stated that she is in the process of writing a version of the play in which she will include the partner of Holly’s character. It would show his perspective on the situation, and the impact it has on him too. I for one would be interested in seeing this as I think it would really benefit an already strong piece of theatre, and perhaps make it a full length play.
Reviewer: Sara Woodruff
Reviewed: 21st July 2016
North West End Rating: ★★★