DTR - Reviews of You Down There And Me Up Here

You Down There And Me Up Here

Fri 3rd – Sun 5th August 2018

reviews

Megan Luesley

at 00:14 on 5th Aug 2018

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We Talk of Horses’ two-hander, 'You Down There and Me Up Here', is a difficult play to even begin to describe. It is, at certain points, an incredible piece of writing. There are definitely two engaging characters, and there’s a loose thread of plot that flows throughout. It feels like less of a play than a dreamlike meditation on themes of love, truth, identity and the fragmentation of.

Essentially, the show follows two individual stories. B (Pip Williams) is a young man whose two year relationship is thrown into turmoil when he falls in love with a circus acrobat at first sight; Nick (Sam Rees) is a drug addict who believes himself to be Nick Cave. That singer is the thread that ties them together, as B’s recently deceased father was a fan. It’s here that I have to confess that the most I’ve heard of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is the theme song to Peaky Blinders, so I’m certain that there were a lot of clever little jokes that completely flew over my head.

Right from the start, 'You Down There and Me Up Here' is self-aware, directly asking the audience to consider questions of truth, reliability, paradoxes and subjectivity. Put simply, it’s confusing, and anyone who wants to see something with a neat, easy-to-follow plot that arrives at a clean conclusion will find themselves floundering to piece together a sensible narrative. In many cases, the plotlines often just felt like a vehicle for the characters to contemplate their separate, yet somehow similar crises.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Williams and Rees also co-wrote the piece, and some sections of the script are, quite simply, beautiful. For example, Williams talks of dynamic people “burning like yellow roman candles, exploding spiders across the stars.” There’s a really poetic quality to the show, an ebb and flow between lyrical and colloquial, and sometimes it feels like the best way to enjoy it is to stop thinking about it and start feeling it.

Williams and Rees are also undoubtedly strong performers. Williams presents B as awkward and inarticulate, and despite their careful composition every line flowed naturally from him. Meanwhile Rees is moody and surly, but absolutely engaging in every move, even when convulsing in the background of Williams’ speeches. The two were perfectly in tune with each other, and that palpable connection lifted both individual performances.

There was an attempt to incorporate music into the production for atmosphere, but I found that this was somewhat hit and miss. At best, Max Welton’s score struck the perfect ambiance; but just as often it was a jarring soundbite that distracted from the performances and the script.

In conclusion, 'You Down There and Me Up Here' is far from a perfect play, often feeling more like a meandering contemplation on life, and it certainly will not be for everyone. But with two captivating performances and a script with some stunning moments of dialogue, it has the potential to stir something in those willing to really listen.

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Shauna Lewis

at 09:49 on 5th Aug 2018

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Opening the show with a Q&A with the audience, 'You Down There and Me Up Here' immediately creates a close relationship with their viewers as we are taken through the journey of B and Nick. Looking at their attempts to find love and their attempts to beat drugs, the show meanders through multiple story lines and characters, often losing its way and resulting with a conclusion which, though poignant, falls slightly flat.

There was an interesting message to be found within the show, but it was often lost within rambling monologues which sometimes felt as if they were losing the attention of the audience. Perhaps this was the meaning; discussing love and happiness and how complicated they can be to acquire could have been intended to reflect in the messy structure of the play. And yet, if such aims go over the audience’s head, then the message wasn’t achieved at all.

Performances from both actors were strong, however Sam Rees’ Nick made more of an impact as a character. Pip Williams as B did an admirable job of switching between multiple personas but it became hard to keep track of who he was and the storyline he was following. As a result, his performance by the end didn’t carry as much of an emotional punch as Nick’s character. Nick’s defined role allowed the emotional development which B’s lacked, and it unfortunately did limit the performance Williams gave.

There was an enjoyable moral within the play, despite it being lost frequently, as Nick finds love and B loses his: this goes against the stereotype that people who are afflicted with addiction will fail in their relationships. Instead B, the seemingly more stable one throughout, is the person to lose his girlfriend.

Williams and Rees, doubling as writers for the production, really knew how to engage the audience with their writing. Although their monologues were exhausting and sometimes got too caught up in how clever they were, they did know how to draw back the audience and maintain an easy-going relationship. Director Charlie Corrigan also offered an excellent visual insight into the intersecting storylines as the audience could see B and Nick continuing their personas in the background.

'You Down There' is a play intended to be messy and intertwining with a moral of something positive, but it frequently got lost with what it was trying to say. The production did contain valid points about the truth and our own perceptions, so for people who live for finding philosophical meaning, it may be the one for them. For those who are simply looking for entertainment, however, it may be better to look elsewhere.

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