A man forged in emotion

Mark and Heather

Ged Simmons as Mark and Lorraine Stanley as Heather Pictures: Graeme Braidwood

Unknown Male

Birmingham Rep Door


PLAYWRIGHT Stephanie Ridings is a new artist fresh from Birmingham REP’s Foundry programme, which aims to give emerging artists a platform to showcase their talent.

Ridings is an exceptional writer and her creative mind and moral thoughts shine through with this world premiere which explores the ideas of coping with tragedy, and moving on from self-blame.

Ridings is a fantastic testament to the Foundry. Unknown Male is the first to be shown as a result of the programme and she should be proud. Her script is deeply profound and the moving themes that she has set to cover are the foundations for the story to evolve.

The play starts with a tragic incident. Instantly we are open to empathy and Ridings has a natural knack for deploying it. The real story of the play shows how a family work through this tragedy, something that wasn’t theirs to begin with. This is an account of human emotion in its purest form. Ridings shows how we rely and thrive off the love of those closest to us.

She has set out to connect us, the audience, to her story in the most unique way. She gives us an openly raw account of a tragic event, but this is determined by how each character isEmily forced to cope with the incident. The family of three are the driving force of the story, and it is through them that Ridings talent is displayed.

The Unknown Male is the central character and the reason for the actions taken by each character. He is not a physical character, but yet he is the integral person in the play. The fact that the he is only alluded to allows us to see the deep and emotional effects that one single action can have on another individual.

Phoebe Frances-Brown as teenage daughter Emily

Heather is a train driver and a mother. She finds herself trapped in her own world of thoughts and feelings since the incident.

Actor Lorraine Stanley approaches the role with a great devotion. The result being a wonderfully emotional response towards the character and the circumstances in which she is portrayed. She has that power to make an audience remember her performance.

Talented Phoebe-Frances Brown plays Emily, GCSE student and daughter to Heather. The events have had just as a profound impact but have presented themselves in a totally different way. Brown has no problem with playing the strong teenager. Emily is a character who injects moments of humour, with witty lines and a feisty mind. Brown’s approach was second to none and is an inspiration to young women actors.
Mark is played by popular actor at the REP Ged Simmons. The character of Mark has a troubled past, and the event is a challenge for him to keep his emotions, and actions, in check. Simmons clearly has formed a stunning connection with Mark. The character’s long and wide ranging past is shown by a truthful approach. Being the only male character, Ged’s performance is touching as he plays the part of a man striving to keep the family together, whilr dealing with his own emotional needs.

Ridings allows each character to be seen in their own light, all part of the same family, yet each with their own story to tell. This only adds to the emotional connection to each character on so many different levels.

A deeply moral and profound playwright, Ridings has found a way to inspire an audience with her words and powerful ability to capture the effects of the mind after tragedy ensues. The result is a greatly endearing production, acted wonderfully by three talented actors and a piece that makes us think about the elements of our lives that we have control of, and the elements that we do not. To 31-01-15

Elizabeth Halpin



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