Friday, January 27

Who Cares – Unity Theatre

LUNG Theatres Who Cares is an emotional rollercoaster ride through the busy and, often overwhelming life, of young carers. Based on real life testimonies, writer and director Matt Woodhead presents three specific stories, against a backdrop of snippets of countless others, highlighting the prevalence of young carers and the tragic lack of support, both emotional and financial, they are faced with on a daily basis.

The piece is presented against a background of bright blue lockers, surrounded by educational paraphernalia, a stark reminder that being a young carer does not change the usual responsibilities of going to school and being a kid. We see three young carers, Connor (Luke Grant), Nicole (Lizzie Mounter) and Jade (Liyah Summers), all dressed in onesies before a loud alarm signals the start of the play and the daily, all-consuming busyness of their lives.

As the play proceeds, we find out that Nicole lives alone with and cares for her mother, Connor cares for both of his parents and Jade cares for her brother and father. All three have issues at school, ranging from teachers not being understanding, or even noticing, their home circumstances, and bullying by other students. Embarrassment over their home-lives keeps them from confiding in anyone, and the weight of responsibility has a profound effect on all of them. Connor’s story in particular has a sense of hopelessness as the cycle of his own mother’s caring responsibilities when she was younger is repeated in his own life.  

Jade’s circumstances are nicely highlighted by her occasional signing of her lines while speaking them. The body language of all three cast members and their tendency to hide from the world using headphones, also heighten the situation which all three characters are living in. Overlapping dialogue and quick, synchronised movement is used to create a sense of both of the overpowering responsibilities of young carers and that it is a widespread issue often hiding behind closed doors. There is a deep sense of tragedy and a feeling of hopelessness to the characters’ lives.

The piece is narrated in an interview style by the three characters who take on the multiple roles of people working in the management of the sector. The interviews with staff members are particularly statistic heavy, which unfortunately has the effect of sapping the pace of the piece on occasion. The style of the piece does mean that it is heavy on the telling and very little of the drama is actually shown to the audience, which can lessen the emotional impact of the piece in some places. On the whole however, the three cast members’ performances are strong enough to create a sense of poignancy, and this piece would be worthy of further development. 

Who Cares is a passionate drama which highlights an issue which is affecting children up and down the country, and has been exacerbated by our recent circumstances. Showing what happens when a child becomes the parent, this is an emotional piece which makes an important point about the current state of the care system and how children can feel a sense of abandonment when an illness takes away the parent that they once had.

Who Cares is being performed at the Unity again on 19th November 2021. Tickets are available here  

Reviewer: Donna M Day

Reviewed: 18th November 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★