by Richard Bean
Manchester Library Theatre Company at The Lowry (Quays Theatre) Pier 8 Salford Quays M50 3AZ To 13 October 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.15pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm
Runs 2hrs 15 mins One interval
TICKETS: 0843 208 6010.
Review: SadiaHabib 4 October.
A small cast but a play with big ideas.
John Humphrys, the Maldives and semantic specificity combine in this wonderfully intelligent and intellectual production that allows us to get up close and personal to a lecturer and her interests and passions, as well as discussions on science and climate change.
Richard Bean’s The Heretic is a fine portrayal of one woman’s attempts to balance the many duties and requirements upon her – as academic, tutor, parent and colleague. A unique and engaging play, it gives us insight into the lonely, competitive and pressurised environment of a university department.
The play is a successful exploration of modern day academia becoming like a business environment, and through the sometimes irritating but ultimately sympathetic character of Dr Diane Cassell (Cate Hamer), we see the pressures of parenting, publishing papers and playing politics. This is a contemporary comment on juggling various roles and responsibilities. We sometimes dislike, sometimes warm to, and sometimes sympathise with Dr Diane Cassell, lecturer of Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics.
She is caring but cutting towards her daughter. The verbal battle and antagonism between her and her daughter is a tad uncomfortable at times. The mother-daughter dynamics add to our understanding of who Cassell is and what she is about. Sophie Robinson brilliantly plays the head-strong, independent and feisty daughter Phoebe who clashes with her mother, and then simpers and swoons when her “crush”, an Earth Sciences undergraduate, appears. Ciaran Kellgren is gawky, nervous, sometimes articulate, and other times inarticulate, sporting his “statement” t-shirt.
So we meet some diverse and wonderfully witty characters and gain some insight into their eccentricities and idiosyncrasies. And this is all in the run up to the holidays. Whatever will happen over Christmas?
Judith Croft’s design creates two principal settings, Cassell’s university office and her countryside home’s glossy, red and modern kitchen. Both are beautifully presented and reflect aspects of her character – ambitious and confident in her office, and a mother at home.
You don’t realise until the end, when you are applauding, that the cast is so small; yet big ideas are successfully explored.
Dr Diane Cassell – Cate Hamer.
Phoebe (Dr Cassell’s daughter) – Sophie Robinson.
Ben Shotter (Earth Sciences undergraduate) – Ciaran Kellgren.
Geoff Tordoff (Site Services/Security) – Andrew Westfield.
Professor Kevin Maloney – Stuart Fox.
Catherine Tickell (Human Resources Officer) – Polly Lister.
For the Film:
John Humphrys – John Humphrys.
Ahmed Waheed (The Maldives High Commissioner to London) – Aaron Neil.
Director: Chris Honer.
Designer: Judith Croft.
Lighting: Nick Richings.
Sound: Paul Gregory.
Music Adviser/Song Composer: Jon Nicholls.
Fight director: Renny Krupinski.