My name is Rachel Corrie

Next up in The Other Room’s autumn season is the debut production from new company, Graphic. Directed by Chelsea Gillard, no stranger to the space, My Name is Rachel Corrie is spirited and ever important as it takes to the floor in Cardiff’s pub theatre this week.

American activist, Rachel Corrie was intentionally hit and killed by a bulldozer in Gaza when she was just 23 years old. This production is made up of diary entries and emails from her life up to this point as she leaves her teenage bedroom in Washington behind and travels to Gaza to bring that touch of humanity back to the war stricken border between Israel and Palestine. 

The soundscape is an excellent touch to the production and while Corrie rattles through conversations, nights sleeping on the floor next to the children of  her adopted family and her hunts for a ballpoint pen, the added background noise and changes in lighting really help to emphasise the timing and context of the piece 

Despite the power in the writing, the piece takes it time to get going and drama student Shannon Keogh struggles to add the needed darkness and light to the piece until the last 15 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, while the importance and truth in her words is apparent, she doesn’t quite seem to believe in her own performance and despite the brilliant stage design, her static presence unfortunately causes the mind to wander. 

Full of resistance and relevance, but with not quite enough fight or pace in its delivery, My Name is Rachel Corrie is a promising debut from Graphic. 

My name is Rachel Corrie runs at The Other Room until 21st October

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It’s a Dark Vanilla Jungle out there

Within Phillip Ridleys writing is a warped maze of desperation, attraction and chaos; and Dark Vanilla Jungle does not disappoint. Brought to the stage by Supporting Walls and currently touring the UK, I was able to catch it in the Wales Millennium Centre’s Urdd Hall this evening after missing out in Edinburgh last summer.

Andrea’s tale of growing up and her need for love, is gripping from Gemma Whelan’s first steps in to the room, as she aims her stories, queries and insults to the audience members surrounding her. As her thoughts and stories unravel with tales of herons on islands and leaving shopping in car parks, Andrea (Whelan) leaps seamlessly between innocent childhood, life as a vulnerable manipulated teen and comparatively as an independent yet needy young woman.

The intense power of a single monologue is hugely apparent in this Supported Wall’s production with 80 minutes flying by caught up in the struggles and highs of Andrea’s life. Emotive, gripping and completely on it throughout, an incredibly honest and bare-faced performance from the incredibly talented Gemma Whelan.

Dark Vanilla Jungle is currently touring the UK after huge success at the Edinburgh Fringe: follow @SupportingWall on Twitter for further updates and details.