STAGE REVIEW: A is for Amy @ Little Theatre, Gateshead (19.10.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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A is for Amy is a poignant and timely play that tackles the sensitive but vital issue of abusive relationships among young people. Written and directed by Zoe Murtagh, this production speaks directly to its intended audience, providing a much-needed platform for discussions about healthy versus toxic relationships, support systems and how to help friends in distress.

The play focuses on the character of Amy (played by Kaitlyn Maxfield), a bright and positive teenager who has worked her way into college for hair and beauty. When the show begins she’s already in a relationship with her older boyfriend, Dean, moving into his house. Although she’s excited to be taking such big steps in her life, we as the audience hear the beginning of his controlling behaviour. Throughout the narrative, we witness the gradual escalation of Dean’s control over Amy. Cleverly, we as the audience don’t witness any triggering imagery by featuring Dean as a voice over. This avoids glorifying him and his behaviour, keeping attention where it is needed most, on Amy and her support network.
A Is For Amy walks the line between real and metaphor with some powerful creative choices. When exploring the role of friendship in helping someone escape a dangerous and difficult situation, Amy gives one of her friends, Frankie (played by Jonny Larman) a key to her home. A tool to literally and figuratively help set her free.

An absolutely beautiful monologue from Amy’s friend Jas (played by Maya Torres) explores how abusive relationships can build up and how we react to them. The slow falling of treacle from a spoon onto the counter, or a cold sore eventually breaking onto the surface of our skin but we cover it, hide it and pretend not to see… But slowly is also how we get out of the danger too, like seeds in the ground working our way towards the light. It is a fantastic story of breaking the cycle.

In spite of its heaviness, the show is mixed with moments of joy. These are explored with Amy’s mother and friends celebrating, but also in the form of comic relief for the audience. This made the story itself more accessible for a wider audience. The play’s impact is magnified by the fact that it was co-produced with local young individuals. It is a response to a pressing need, with the alarming statistic that a quarter of 13-17 year-old girls experience intimate partner violence.

A Is For Amy successfully raises awareness and equips young people to protect themselves and each other. It is a compelling and effective resource for initiating crucial conversations on a challenging but necessary topic.

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