Review: 154 Collective – Under the Bed

154Under the Bed is a compelling and compulsive piece of theatre that benefits from the mother-daughter roles played by Leanne Rowley and Emily Mallaghan, the latter a real revelation and perfectly natural choice for the role. Having a minor play the young Alice, practically abducted by her distraught mother from the parental home to a house full of dark and dank mysteries and fear.

UTB-shoot-WEB-02-300x200Rowley plays an exasperated mother with good intentions but finding it hard to cope with her child’s sense of dislocation and isolation at leaving home. It is this that leads both mother and daughter to focus on a fantasy world, at first fairy tale, but then much darker and scary. Alice, like in Carroll’s classic creation, falls into the depths of surreal scenes with the Shadow making noises in her room and seemingly teasing and taunting her.

She eventually enters into the world under the bed which had been the focus point of the set so far. Once this is removed the filmic fantasies in both animated and realistic forms take over. Throughout the musicians’ live performance adds to the depth of the narrative and adds to the intense atmosphere too.

UTB-shoot-WEB-01-218x300This is quite simply the finest use of a child actor I have come across in some thirty years of reviewing and the combination of sights, sounds and performances portrays the inner world of Alice as well as our adult fears too. Dan Mallaghan’s direction is clever enough to allow a fluidity and looseness to the partly improvised acting. This combines to an enervating and cathartic audience experience that proves 154 Collective as a talented creative pool to look out for and support.

Reviewed by Rich Jevons on Saturday 7 November at Theatre in the Mill, Bradford. Also showing Thursday 12 November at Canada Water Culture Space, London.

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