UEA’s first encounter of Dennis Kelly’s plays came in the form of a performance of After the End in the basement of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, some years ago. In it, Holly White, Love and Money’s Producer, described Martha Geelan (our now director’s) performance as “traumatic” and “harrowing and awful” in the best way, I was assured, so greatly influenced was she by the realism in Kelly’s work that Geelan brought to life.
It is this same unsettled feeling that Geelan and White hope to arouse in their audiences with their performance of Love and Money. They want the audience to step out of their comfort zone, step into the shoes of the characters and allow themselves to be unsettled and experience something they haven’t seen at the drama studio before.
Love and Money is quite simply a play that examines how love can be destroyed by materialism and yet is as far from simple as you could get, with its disjointed non-chronological order and disturbed and complex characters for a start.
It has been performed at the Royal Exchange in Manchester and the Young Vic and is now heading to our very own University stage from 16th – 18th October and may I say to all those concerned that this play is in very safe hands. The Director Martha Geelan is somewhat of a veteran thespian, having been involved creatively in theatre her entire time at UEA. Just this year, The Psycho Social Gathering, a play devised by her theatre company, went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, being just one shining example of this young director’s successes. Holly White, the Producer and creative partner of Geelan regarding this project has also listed the Fringe Festival as one of her many achievements, of which Love and Money will surely be one.
To allow me to get a feel of the play I was luckily allowed to witness the rehearsal of the infamous numbers scene and this, I believe, gave me a clear understanding of not only Dennis Kelly’s work as a playwright but also the creative team’s interpretation of his words.
Geelan assured me that the entire rehearsal process started off with the text, making sure that her actors got an understanding of the play and of their roles in order for them to better adopt their character’s traits on stage and communicate, in their performances, the many nuances and subtleties that each character contained. She felt that it was vastly important that the actors got to grips with the text which she herself described as ‘bizarre to read’, to understand ‘the building blocks’ of the story, ‘the beats’, the whys, with the team talking and discussing as much as when she directed at Shakespeare.
In those few minutes of watching the numbers scene, I was pleasantly unsettled by the unfamiliar tone of the play, I was thrown by the sub-textually dark nature of the text but I also saw bits of myself in the scene, seeing in Jess (the lead female role played by the lovely Gemma Barnett) the otherwise unnoticed, or carefully hidden materialist in me.
The Minotaur team are working incredibly hard and from what I’ve seen of it so far, you really are in for a treat. Love and Money will make you uncomfortable, it will drag you out of your comfort zone and make you think, but as Geealan so wisely put it, ‘it is when you are out of your comfort zone that life is most illuminating’.