Graeae Theatre productions present “One Under” by Winsome Pinnock. Two stories run parallel, one follows Cyrus, a troubled man whose life changes forever when someone jumps in front of his train and loses their life. Greif-stricken and consumed by guilt, he pursues a friendship with the mother of the deceased to try find clues and answers. Meanwhile, a young black male named Sonny mysteriously chooses a complete stranger to spend his time and money on. It is unclear why or how, but Sonny promises her the world and aims to give her the love and happiness that he knows she deserves.

It is some time before these two complex storylines merge and there is a sense of mystery and intrigue throughout this one act play. However the important focus which is at the core of this production soon becomes apparent as the plots reveal themselves to follow the stages leading up to and following the tragic suicide. From the clues and disclosures throughout this piece, we learn that Sonny faces many challenges growing up and progressing into adulthood with links to crime and mental instability indicated. Filled with emotion, mystery and ambiguity, this play will really make you think and helps to highlight the suicide crisis that we are facing every day.

The success of “One Under” is a combination of the clever writing and the strength within the performances. Winsome Pinnock has created a piece that is limitless in terms of meaning and the themes explored. She throws issues around parental bonds and love alongside suicide, money, class, guilt, forgiveness and everything else in-between. The audience are forced to become detectives and uncover the many messages within this substantial piece and I think a number of people will take different, prevailing but important meanings away from this production.

The performances were believable and powerful and it is fair to say that this piece is highly demanding both emotionally and physically. However this talented cast had no difficulty creating the drama as the audience quickly become totally engrossed for the 90 minute performance. Director, Amit Sharma, had a difficult job unpicking the masses of layers to ‘One Under’ but has managed to expertly get the very most out of both the actors and the writing. Through clever direction and strong characterisation from the five actors, this piece takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster and leaves you guessing forever.

Graeae are a wonderful theatre company who pride themselves on breaking down the barriers of disability. This show was accessible to a range of D/deaf and disabled audience members and the cast graced the audience with an enjoyable Q & A session following the show. Getting to know the actors and the process to creating ‘One Under’ gave further insight into the depth and meaning of this production.

Thank you to this company for not only focusing on accessibility for all in terms of employment and participation within arts industry but also for bringing such an important issues of mental health and suicide to the fore in an artistic, creative and believable manner. I wish you every success with the rest of ‘One Under’. This show continues at Unity Theatre tonight – Friday 15th of November 2019.

Reviewer: Blathine Maguire

Reviewed: 14th November 2019

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★