Small Plans is a play about the small things in life that mean so much: fleeting decisions, stolen moments, the tiny grains of possibility that gradually build up to bigger things. This is expressed perfectly in director Alex Mitchell’s intimate staging at The Other Space in Hull. Situated in a busy street full of multi-storied corporate buildings, there perhaps couldn’t be a less likely place to find a transformed theatre space in Hull. It may not have a particularly slick feel about it but that’s exactly it’s charm. And when the words and the drama are this good, who cares?
Penned by Hull playwright Morgan Sproxton and produced by new Hull-based company Silent Uproar, Small Plans runs at 45 minutes and is essentially an extended one-woman monologue, performed beautifully by Alice Beaumont as Katy Carr. From the very first moment the stage (literally) bursts into life, Beaumont gives an open, honest and intelligent performance that captures the many facets of one woman’s journey through a difficult few months. Katy is a woman like many of us will recognise – she’s worked hard, got the job, got out of Hull, got the man, got the engagement ring on her finger, but something is starkly out of place in her life. This may be a play about small things, but it covers big topics and does them justice.
With simple staging and acoustic music provided by co-performer Jonny Neaves, Mitchell creates a world that is wonderfully atmospheric, perma-tinged with the discordance that secretly lies at the heart of Katy’s story. The delicate balance of drip-feeding information is expertly established in Sproxton’s text and the cast remain true to that throughout. At times the lighting changes feel unnecessary in such a small space; in a larger venue where place and time may need clearer delineation the shifts between stark and subtle lighting would take the audience on Katy’s journey with her, but here we are close enough to feel part of her story without the more traditional theatrical mechanics. Throughout, the production is often at its best when at its most raw and stripped down, when the emotions are so close to the surface they scream beautifully for release.
Beaumont gives a wonderfully nuanced performance throughout and is clearly supported by Neaves and fellow performer Jose Trevar. Silent Uproar makes its mark with a focused ensemble and sensitive direction from Mitchell. Importantly, it employs a distinctive physical theatre approach with an appropriate amount of discretion. Over-used, it can run the risk of detracting from the narrative, but here its use is all about exploring character and story beyond the text – and Sproxton’s is a text and a story that makes you realise just how significant small plans can be.
Image credit: Silent Uproar