6-7 September 2015
Reviewed by Linzi Davies
The aptly titled Bagheads, a gritty drama about a heroin addict and the story behind his demise coupled with the impacts his drug addiction had on his family and relationships. The aim is to make the viewer always think about the fact that there may be a reason behind certain occurrences and not just to see someone as another dirty junkie. The idea for the script is phenomenal, however in practice, it was less than perfect.
The show opens with the addicts (Shaun) family sat around his hospital bed whilst the eerie beeping of the life support machine fills the auditorium. A dark prose with a number of characters dressed up as various states of drug addiction again hits home and immediately makes the viewer think. Shaun’s conscious played excellently by Daniel Holmes, is a very deep moving portrayal of agony and helplessness that affect him as an addict looking in on lives he destroyed. A happy young boy who falls onto the slippery slope into petty crime after his father leaves the family home. His incarnation on a care order into a local facility is compounded by a horrific sexual assault which he suffers at the hands of an older boy and the damage is suddenly irreversible. The boy will no longer live in happiness but press the self-destruct button which will have a domino effect on those closest to him. His mother Gladys, showed an unerring amount of unconditional love for her youngest son at the detriment of her other three children, Paul, Mary and Katy. Her portrayal of never ending loyalty was honest and thought provoking and also sometimes light hearted with her unique stance on “telling it like it is”. The stage show tackled some very serious issues and in the most these particular scenes were handled with sincerity and a raw honesty, a number of gasps were heard from the audience at various points and many a tear was wiped from the eye during some especially vulnerable moments. The ending whilst long was unexpected and in ways very beautiful, a happy outcome?
So that in a nutshell is the good points, a few excellent castings and incredibly talented actors, namely Shaun’s conscious, Shaun, Gladys, Mike and Jed. The rest of the extremely large cast are pretty much best forgotten, the actor who played Paul in particular was terrible, his acting was stilted, his expressions and intonation were difficult to endure and his accent changed every time he spoke. In fairness to the other actors, this play was a case of 1 hour and 20 minutes of really tremendous script stretched and stretched into 3 hours of painful watching. The play cried out to be short, snappy, hard hitting and graphic, that in itself would have had the critics applauding, instead I found myself begging for the ending to come so I could go home. A cast of 6-8 and the cutting of 20 scenes would have made this exactly what it really deserved to be.
For shows at The Lowry visit www.thelowry.com.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000