Thu 6th – Mon 31st August 2015


Archie Hill

at 09:58 on 23rd Aug 2015



Lost Sock Company’s new production Tether is outwardly concerned with the story of Mark, a would-be Olympic runner and Becky, a blind would-be Paralympian and their struggles: for him, winning a gold medal; for her, maintaining some kind of independence in the face of disability. At its heart, it’s about ambition, frustration and the large overlap between the two, and while at times it may lack subtlety, it’s a nonetheless engaging and simply effective story, served well by both cast members.

In many ways, the relationship between the protagonists is an apt metaphor for the actors to follow: "I need you to trust me",Mark tells Becky at the beginning as he ties himself to her, guiding her as she runs. This is true also for actors Lee Drage and Maisie Greenwood (who is herself visually impaired). Bound together – literally and figuratively – for most of the hour-long running time, Tether relies almost entirely on the pair’s mutual trust and chemistry.

This is both helped and hindered by writer Isley Lynn’s script. On the one hand Becky, initially so loud-mouthed and obnoxious as to be off-putting (not to mention slightly tiresome) progresses throughout the play, revealing layers of vulnerability and despair springing from her disability; it is a strong character arcs, conveyed movingly and convincingly.

On the other hand, the transformation of Mark’s character, from one of general affability – albeit with fairly heavy commitment issues – to full-blown tragic despair works less well. A full-blown, Marlon Brando-style “I coulda’ been a contender” moment comes slightly out of nowhere, not quite sitting comfortably with the rest of the story.

However, for the most part, the developing relationship between the two is enjoyable to watch. The stark emptiness of the venue with its lack of stage props directs the audience’s entirely on the two actors, sprinting on the spot, tied to bungee ropes, sweating and gasping right in front of them. There are nice touches: Becky in a rare moment of contentment as she brushes her hand along a hedgerow, Mark describing the passing landmarks which she cannot see, the smart and hard-edged banter delivered with fine comic timing.

While the ending may feel slightly dissatisfying for some, coming somewhat abruptly as it does, Tether is nevertheless a thoughtful, well-researched and committed production. It may feel like something of a work in progress, but despite this is well worth an hour of your time, offering an interesting and refreshing take on disability, thanks in no small part to its two leads.


Stasia Carver

at 10:25 on 23rd Aug 2015



Understated but powerful, Tether, a new piece of writing by Isley Lynn, is a fresh and compelling exploration of ambition, dependence and trust.

Mark (Lee Drage), a runner crushed by his failure to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games, sees an unconventional route to Rio 2016 in the form of Becky (Maisie Greenwood), a blind marathon runner. Shelving his own Olympic dreams, Mark becomes Becky’s running guide, determined that the two of them will reach the Paralympics.

Clearly meticulously researched, the play is fascinating if only to see the mechanics of blind-running with a guide, skilfully and convincingly choreographed throughout; Drage and Greenwood work impressively hard on stage, running harnessed to bungee ropes.

Besides a bench and some weights, there’s not much else on set: like Becky, we rely on sound effects, powerfully utilised throughout, and Mark’s commentary to visualise the play. It works: so well that it’s a shock at the end to realise that one has spent the best part of an hour watching two actors running on the spot.

The plot is predictable, but it doesn’t really matter: the focus here is the evolving relationship between Mark and Becky, with strong performances from both actors. Each initially viewing the other as little more than a means to an end, there is little love lost between the two at first; their rocky transition from reluctant partners to formidable teammates over the course of the play is both convincing and moving. Succinctly conveyed through one-sided phone-calls and tersely reported conversations, we also witness the deterioration of Mark’s relationship with his unseen girlfriend.

Becky’s brittle, relentlessly sarcastic demeanour does get tiring, and the character can feel rather one-dimensional at first. When bickering does turn to banter between the two, more often the jokes will make you smile than laugh out loud.

Nevertheless, it’s refreshing to see such an unpatronising portrayal of disability: Greenwood – herself visually impaired – actively resists our pity. “I fucked up my GCSEs, I’m a woman, and I’m a bit gobby,” Becky laughs wryly at one point. “Being blind is not my biggest challenge.”

Tether is not a play that blows one away; rather, its power quietly sinks in in the show’s aftermath, long after the pair have run their final race. Lynn’s lightness of touch belies the skilfulness of her writing in dealing so succinctly and movingly with serious themes without resorting to sentimentality; director Bethany Pitts has skilfully brought an important piece to the stage.


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