Tuesday, July 5

8 Hours There and Back – Unity Theatre

The latest production from All Things Considered is a collaborative verbatim piece exploring the stories of children affected by parental imprisonment in the UK.  The show (co-created by Time Matters UK and the Unity Theatre) has the usual warmth, humour and pathos of All Things Considered as Michael Irvine-Hall, Alivia Yemm and Adebola Olayinka creatively and energetically share testimonies from children who have had a parent sent to prison.  Indeed, at one point Yemm was so enthusiastic in her performance that she added a dramatic fall to the proceedings – a moment that she quickly incorporated into the show for comedic effect as she informed Olayinka “no you go, I’m injured!” (Thankfully she appeared to make a quick recovery).  

8 Hours There and Back is intended for social workers, prison officers and other professionals who engage with the estimated 300,000 children affected by parental imprisonment in the UK.  The piece has been curated and directed by Emma Bramley and Sarah Hogarth who weave moving accounts of prison visits with TikTok trends and a brief karaoke moment (which recalls the company’s excellent show Wake Up Maggie).  The transitions of this work in progress aren’t always as fluid as they might be and some are more successful than others – the TikTok inspired sequence about the questions you’re asked when you’ve a parent in prison for example.

Choreographer Jenny Rees (who some may know from her work with dance company Taciturn) has brought an extra dimension to the show creating some evocative movement sequences.  There is some effort to incorporate these into the show with motifs appearing during monologues, but these moments need a little more attention to achieve greater consistency across the cast and within the show. 

8 Hours There & Back is an intentionally thought-provoking show. The actors repeatedly ask how we feel listening to their stories, knowing nothing can be done.  It is the hope of those involved that this show will inspire change by giving voice to those left outside, when their parents are put inside. 

Reviewer: Clare Chandler

Reviewed: 4th February 2022

North West End UK Rating: WORK IN PROGRESS (★★★★)