Review: Voices from Home v.5 (Brighton Fringe)

Voices from Home is the fifth anthology of new writing from the South West of England, presented by Broken Silence Theatre for the Brighton Fringe in audio play format.

Intended for an adult audience, there are a variety of voices represented in this showcase, and the topics are varied. As each play is relatively short, from less than a minute to an avaerge of ten minutes, the writers have to be economical with their words and plot.

Sexual expeirence is a core element in three of the plays. In the longest, Madeline Acalia’s The Self Defence Class, Mog deals with her underlying anger after being exposed to an assault on a bus. In this visceral piece, fast-paced, witty and lively, Julia Grogan gives a performance that brings the other characters she meets in Acalia’s text sharp and clear, and lets us empathise with Mog as she is failed at every turn. The violence, when it comes, is shocking, especially from a woman who is presented as so sensitive to the needs of others. This is a strong piece full of intelligence and perception, directed by Sophie Drake.

In Vinegar Chips, by Grace Merry, and directed by Tess Agus, the perils of young peoiple’s dating is explored through a wild evening at the seaside, in Worthing. Eleanor Grace performs the play in a laconic style, cut through with hardly suppressed glee. The text is very direct about matters of physical contact, and of the world of the sea, but also takes a more abstract turn by the end.

Promotional image for Voices from Home

The shortest piece, Sarah Milton’s Woo Woo, a mobile phone’s notifications lead to one woman, played by Naomi Denny, reflecting of the memory of first love. In its exploration of grief through the medoum of messaging, group chats, and SIM gaming, ir makes it’s point very effectively. Naomi Denny brings a sense of regret to the role in a piece beautifully shaped by director Tim Cook.

The magical aspects of Vinegar Chips and the grief of Woo Woo are echoed in Lucy Dobry’s The Rough and Mirage, in which Antonia Salib’s bereaved woman searches for something out of reach when she reads the local nespaper’s paranormal column. This is a play which catches its breath around what ifs, but leaves the central character’s eventual fate open. Directed by Charlie Norburn, this is perhaps a little too short to really develop its themes, but it is well-written and has some interesting ideas.

Black comedy and twisted dealings come to the fore in Georgie Bailey’s These Things That Burn, in which Niamh Finlay’s thoughts of revenge against her sister Eliza for being unspeakable cruel in their childhood. Set mainly around a garden shed which holds some terrifying secrests (and very loud sound effects), this is a story of dark revenge and methodical plotting, directed by Eilidh Gibson.

Taken as a whole, some of the plays inevitably work betweer than others, but all have risen to the challenge of the audio format and created work which is compelling to hear.

Fringe rating: ****

You can listen to Voices from Home in the Brighton Fringe until 27 June. Book your ticket (£8) here.

For more about Broken Silence Theatre, go here.