Covert Firmament’s Read to Me is a criminal drama exploring how far someone would be willing to go for love. Directed and written by Dan Horrigan based on a story written by Horrigan in collaboration with Sarah Jennings, it tells the story of Rollin who has dyslexia and has recently been imprisoned at Strangeways.
The piece is narrated by Rollin and shows him and two other prisoners in a voluntary talking therapy group. He is the first to share the story of how he ended up in prison and frequent asides which break the fourth wall, show the complexity of his character. History like that of the other prisoners allow the three men to bond over common ground.
Flashback scenes show Rollin meeting the woman he fell in love with and reading her Tarot cards. Parallels between the language used around reading Tarot and reading language is used to emphasise the impact of issues with literacy. His desire to protect the woman, known only as “C”, and her young son begins a cycle of events which lead Rollin into his current predicament.
The child’s father is a successful criminal who Rollin ingratiates himself to. The suits worn during flashbacks create a good sense of the world of organised crime and contrast very well with the casual and plain clothing worn in prison. The sense of constant fear created by the piece is palpable and the sense of the feeling that there is the knowledge that consequences are coming but carrying on regardless give the drama a strong sense of tragedy.
Read to Me is an original dramatic love story about dyslexia and the impact of being exposed to the criminal underworld. The performances throughout are excellent and there is a lot of potential to expand this short fifteen-minute piece much further. I would love to hear more about Rollin’s story and that of his life with C and her child. Excellent as it is, and space for so much more, this is a brilliant and unique piece.
Read to Me is being streamed by Ukraine Fringe until 3rd September 2023 and is available to watch here https://www.scenesaver.co.uk/production/read-to-me/
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 28th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: