A film by the physical theatre company Hot Coals Theatre, My Darling Christopher is a RADA Festival Homemakers Commission. Running at just over nine minutes, and written by Jo Sargeant and Claire-Louise English, this piece concerns a letter sent during wartime.
Christopher is away fighting for his country, and Dorothy, his wife, is waiting at home. Their son Clive, severely deaf and blind from childhood meningitis, lives at school and it is his experience at close quarters with danger which informs the story.
David Monteith-Hodge’s photography hints at the desolation and loneliness of these disperate worlds. The father missing his family (“we will be so relieved to hear from you”). Young Clive, sports mad, in independent silence.
Using speech, captioning, British Sign Language and Visual Vernacular, My Darling Christopher is completely accessible and inclusive. The performances of William Grint as Clive and Brian Duffy as the Pilot are well-developed to flesh out the tone of the “letter home” (beautifully read by co-writer Sargeant).
Clive Davis, now an elderly man, appears in the end credits. This is his story, his reality of war. By developing a language which is uniquely that of the theatre, the world in which My Darling Christopher exists comes to life.
In a week when discussions have taken place around the issues around face mask accessibility and the hearing impaired, it seems an appropriate point to consider different routes of independent communication.
Hot Coals Theatre have released this film as part of a larger project to create a full theatre production called A New Way of Life (currently on hold during lockdown).
You can obtain a ticket to watch My Darling Christopher at HOMEmakers. It will remain available for the remainder of 2020.
Photo credit: Hot Coals Theatre