STAGE REVIEW: Sugar @ Live Theatre, Newcastle (05.03.20) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image Paislie Reid by Topher McGrillis

Sugar will be on general release in June

It’s a privilege to attend the very first screening of Sugar, this latest production from Open Clasp Theatre Company that fuses theatre and film. Written by Catrina McHugh and directed by Laura Lindow, this collection of intensely raw monologues to camera presents three women in different settings, paths, cities, lives, with one underlying thread that connects them.

Don’t judge by what you see before you today. Spare me a moment to share my story of how I got to here.

The set is simple: arches of doorways, bars, a waiting room chair, a prison bed…Nothing can detract from the power of the narrative. Taken from real interviews with real women through a democratic and empowering process, the words express the hurt, bewilderment, frustration and despair of women trapped in abusive relationships and addiction. Sugar takes me way out of my depth, beyond the limitations of my own experience. I guess that’s the point.

Reflecting on the impact of screen versus live theatre, I sense that you win, and you lose. You gain the intimacy of close-up expression but lose the immediacy of the physical presence in the space. The greatest gain is undoubtedly the potential reach and influence of this work. There are big plans to get this important and urgent piece of theatre out there.

Observing is not enough. All those involved in the making of Sugar are passionate about seeing change at a societal and political level. You witness something as distressing as this and ask, ‘What can I do?’ The Open Clasp team are prepared with an answer: a call to action listing practical ways to join the Open Clasp movement.

As these women unite to mourn the loss of a friend, I grieve the loss of innocence and childhood that led them to this place. May this grieving turn to hope.

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