Listed our some of our reviews from our Manchester, UK production 2013.
Digging Deep (Salford)
The narrative follows two sisters reconnecting and revealing each others' pasts, both of whom have concealed a secret shaping their character. From the beginning it is clear that sisters Ann and Lucy do not get on, and haven't for a long time. Lucy (portrayed by Laura Hills-Leigh) is a nurse who finds teenage sister Ann (Amy Dee) in A&E.
At first, I found myself getting irritated by Ann's animated child like behaviour, yet as the play progresses the character development within her exposes a troubled individual. Dee masters the role of a victim. She illustrates with vivid clarity the torture a victim of such abuse goes through, from denial to rage. In addition to this fellow lead Hills-Leigh shines as Lucy. As with Ann's character, Lucy also evolves as a character.
We see her as a level headed, mature and responsible woman to a tormented figure, haunted by her childhood. Hills-Leigh showcases the traits of a victim which aren't shown enough in the media, her capability to fix her stare blankly into the audience projects raw emotion. The relationship between the two came across strained at times yet as it progressed the relationship between the sisters became more believable.
The character development captures the audience's attention, the production centres around the two characters either at Lucy's home or the hospital and what they are planning to do. Just like Lucy is desperate to know what has happened since Ann left the house, so are the audience, we feel as if we are a part of this situation even though we are merely observing.
I found myself forgetting that this production was above a pub, I agreed with many that these performances deserve and need to be shown to a wider audience, rather than the niche gathering it attracted o the night.
Gemma Flannery confronts the issue with tense almost interrogative moments which are complemented and balanced by light comedic scenes. One for example shows a drunken Ann going through Lucy's boyfriend's music on his laptop. A melancholic song echoes to the audience to which she comments "I might as well slit my wrists". Such relatable moments break up the tense atmosphere surrounding the topic of abuse and allow the production itself to be bearable to watch.
The audience isn't jaded once they leave, the balance it has constructs the narrative in a clever way which allows the audience to see Ann as a drunken teenager (and laugh) whilst at the same time remember what she is going through. Successfully conveying the message abuse happens in everyday life and should be confronted and spoke about.
- Elise Gallagher 2013 - What's on Stage
Bravely focusing on the prevalent issue and social tragedy of child sexual abuse, “Digging Deep”, written by Gemma Flannery, is a poignant drama centered on the dysfunctional relationship of two sisters Lucy(Laura Hills-Leigh) and Ann (Amy Dee). Written with gut wrenching honesty and authenticity, Flannery exposes an accurate insight into the gritty emotional ugliness caused by abuse without being overly explicit.
Interwoven into the tragedy is the bond of sisterhood central to the focus of the issue, expressed alternately through reminiscing of fond childhood memories and laid open naked feelings towards each other. Hills-Leigh, playing older sister Lucy and Dee have an intense heartfelt chemistry. Struggling between being a protective mother figure and resenting younger sibling Ann, Hills-Leigh delivers a subdued yet profound performance and seems to instinctively understand the complexity of her character. Her maturity to portray emotion merely through the expression of her eyes is earnest and impassioned. Despite dialogue inconsistency with the natural speech of a 16 year old, Dee delivered an in depth stage presence with the often manic Ann. She is particularly commanding with the usage of stage props and violent outbursts that distress and provokes an elevated sense of being uncomfortable for the audience.
Even with a small stage and limited props, director Charlie Mortimer manages to make excellent use of levels to create visual interest and hot static. Overall the experience felt like sitting across the room and being a part of the unfolding drama.
Upon leaving the performance the audience was buzzing with conversation inspired by the thought provoking and well written “Digging Deeper”. Writer Gemma Flannery is currently traveling, promoting and raising funds to bring her play around the globe to increase awareness of abuse. Patrons are rewarded with an exceptional experience and the ability to contribute to this worthwhile cause through proceeds of ticket sales.