Susan Stanley Carroll congratulates all involved in See Me For Myself
Yes, the idea sounds maudlin but the writers’ empathy with their characters creates a deeply poignant drama as its quiet ripples of dialogue are witty and deliciously engaging.
In what would otherwise be a play that I would stay away from, the humour in ‘See Me for Myself’ never jars despite the palpable tragedy of Sally and Stephen as they eagerly embrace many moments of happiness, laughter, and love - and find redemption at the end of their fragile lives.
Sally (Alice Cox) and Stephen (Nickolia King-N’Da) are perfectly cast. He oozes naughtiness and she exudes the glimmer of thistledown that is being gently blown away. The moment when Sally makes a profound wish under a shimmering moon turns the austere hospice room into a magical space. Alice Cox’s acting is subtle, yet commanding, as she transforms Sally from an unhappy sixteen year old child into a mature young woman. She blossoms in front of our eyes. Whereas Nickolia deftly develops his charismatic “oh so naughty boy” persona into a more restrained, perceptive yet still a fun-loving young man.
The questions posed by Naylor and Way are crucial to the central dilemma in the play. Sister Jones (Monnica Leighton), has the task of caring for the emotional and physical demands of her two vulnerable young patients. She is confronted by moral issues on disability, love and sex and how far the state and family should interfere with the teenagers’ wishes and needs. Monica Leighton’s compassionate performance is pitched to perfection; she tenderly supports Sally and Stephen and yet struggles with her moral duty as a senior nurse.
Stephen was abandoned by his family. Yet, Sally’s family features significantly in the story. David Puckridge convincingly portrays her father as a stereotypical blinkered, aggressive and unhappy man. Lydia Tucker plays Sally’s loving, bullied mother and her resilient performance adds an extra dimension to the outcome of the story. Miss Baxter, an articulate, caring senior medical consultant, is intelligently played by Lyn Sagovsky. She is the voice of reason who seals the outcome of Sally and Stephen’s daunting real life challenge.
Please pop a packet of tissues into your pocket, if you are prone to a wee-weep, as the tenderness of the last act is moving but not mawkish. The audience on Wednesday night were buoyant and excited by the production, several saying that they would have enjoyed an apres-show chat with the writers, director, and cast.
See Me for Myself is a memorable, life confirming tear-jerk-of-a-play. Now that, the writer, Chris Naylor has retired and is no longer working as a distinguished consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, we really need and hope that more plays will fall from his purring pen.
Congratulations to the director David Phipps-Davis, Chris Naylor and Joanna Way for creating a memorable and thought provoking production. Also thanks to Simon Reilly, Managing Director of the Tabard, for commissioning this intelligent and wonderful play for his theatre .
October 15, 2018