Tuesday, April 23

Smiler – Pyramid Arts Centre

Soup Productions presented ‘Smiler’ at Warrington’s Pyramid Arts Centre written by Michael Pirks and Directed by Michael Ridd.

Soup Productions is a relatively small theatre company that established itself in 2017 and has had one previous successful production of ‘Little Red’ which was performed in 2023.

It is extremely rare that actors are blessed with new writings and are given the opportunities to use new material as nowadays everything is rehashed or is a reimagined versions of something that already exists. New material is so unique for actors to be given the scope to be a new character that has no stereotype and has only the characteristics from the genius’s head that it came out of. The actor has only the writers’ ideas that they can base and build the character on. The actor has the opportunity to build their character up layer by layer and find their identity, build their back story up, the reasonings and the personality and mannerisms of their roles which is a marvellous opportunity for any actor.

What Pirks has created in this script is nothing more than genius which was personally inspired by the importance of mental health and how even though we are encouraged to be open but at the same time there are quick fixes being created and the pressures it puts on us as people and our resources. His creativity was inspired by in his word a lot of TV like black mirror, 12 monkeys and the league of gentleman which enabled him to produce such a masterpiece.

The story is based around Pheobe (Sam Duxbury) who is hosting a party with her partner Nell (Mia Fathers) which takes a sinister turn where the sins of her past come back to haunt her. The strong cast of 11 deliver a dark and surreal story of the past and present around the smiler treatment and how it impacts the founder of the radical treatment in the mental health setting.

The performance is in three acts where we are witness to how the smiler system has been implemented in the mental health centre where Pheobe is working and how she is the founder and how in the end it comes full circle nine years later to engulf her.

Strong performances from the whole cast with an exceptional visual delight from Matty Rowland in his contemporary dance during the third act of the performance. It is clear that the cast have put their heart and souls into the performance, and it was also evident that they enjoyed every moment on stage.

Huge credit to Mike Ridd for his exemplary direction and to Louise Wright for her choreography.

This production is fresh, new, exciting and absolutely captivating from start to finish.

Mike Pirks is undoubtably outstanding in the world of fresh material and I can’t wait to see what he produces next as he is one to watch out for.

Well done to all involved in what I can only describe as an outstanding evening of theatre.

Reviewer: Katie Leicester

Reviewed: 23rd February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.