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Saving Grace
Published on Monday, 23 July 2012

5 starsUnderground Venues, Theatre
Run ended
Reviewed by Elijah James

What is the point of social networking?  It gets a bit confusing, especially for the characters of Rebel Base Productions' Saving Grace.  It's a nice play on words for a not-so-nice story about checking up on people – and it’s a real sit-com romp, with outrageous characters and a story-line that revolves around the absurdity of our interconnectivity.  So many vices, too many devices!

Saving Grace follows the story of three women – Dani (Nicole Cane), Katie (Kayla Keetley) & Cheryl (Josie Sedgwick-Davies) – supposedly enjoying a hen night at home, with drinks and Abba for entertainment.  It's all very Ab-Fab and the jokes are hilarious.  But the evening turns sinister when one of the trio's friends goes missing.  Grace (who’s only ever alluded to within the play) is suspected of being kidnapped, raped, or worse… all because her presence on social networks has turned ambiguous, raising suspicion about her safety and whereabouts.

Are they right to be concerned, or is it all fallacious gossip?  There are casual references to Big Brother.  The bride to be, Dani, insists that there is nothing wrong, but while one character protests the others plead.  The screen-name Cassanova48 gives the two meddlers, Katie and Cheryl, ammunition to fire out wild conclusions: perhaps Grace has been abducted by someone who is 48?  Or was born in ’48?

It's all very tongue-in-cheek; the entire affair is laced with heavy doses of humour, brilliantly scripted, and the garish costumes add to the bright and bubbly way that the characters parade around in them.  It's a highly animated piece, and I particularly enjoyed how rich the dialogue was.  All the jokes were carried off with a deft wit, and I truly believed that the actors understood all the modes of the script.

The cast enjoyed a versatile dynamic, bouncing off each other and livening the audience – who duly laughed loudly on the many occasions that it proved to be exceptionally funny.  Jay Podmore, known in the play as simply 'Jay', brought a charismatic, lively and camp air to the performance.  We’re introduced to Jay, Katie’s boyfriend, when he’s caught in the act of being a stripper (or maybe he’s just a meat-packer night-shift worker).  More hilarity ensues from this point on. 

But we mustn’t forget about the important issue underpinning the play – in fact, all the laughter may even be a distraction from what should be a troubling concern.  In sharing so much information about ourselves on social networking sites, how much do we allow ourselves to be monitored?  The fear of Grace being apprehended by a pervert – which escalates and escalates as the play draws on – may well prove ill-founded, in the end.

It's impossible to fault a play that’s conceived and brought about with such sophistication.  Each member of the cast was articulate and professional, and my favourite moment came when Jay broke the fourth wall of the theatre, taking the opportunity to apologise for spitting on an audience member slightly.  At the risk of giving any spoilers, we are left with a dash of irony and a hint of suspense, as the audience lilted in unison with each other… “aha”!

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These are archived reviews of shows from Buxton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.