Arts, Venue

Wasp, Maddermarket Theatre

Wasp is one of the bravest and most incredible plays I have seen in a long time. The play told the story of how the friends and family of one of the characters, Peter King, processed the effects of his suicide. It focussed strongly on mental health and the process of grief and guilt. These themes are discussed with such directness and passion, and it is clear that there is so much research and thought that has gone into every second of this play.

Every line, written by Ella Rowdon, was so powerful and there was an impact behind every word. I was in awe at how bravely her writing called out universities and other institutions for not doing enough to support mental health for young people. Her writing did not simply focus on one cause or one blame for the death of her character but juggled with many poignant ideas and this made the play extremely thought-provoking.

Directed by both Ella Rowdon and Felix Brown, their choices of staging, lighting, and casting were absolutely brilliant. The choice to intersperse the characters in with the audience was fantastic as there was no escaping the play and the difficult topics at hand, and this made for a more intense viewing. The audience and the characters were with one another and this made the message on the importance of talking to one another come through a lot more strongly.

One of the standout performances was Sam Hewitson playing Daniel King, the brother of Peter King. Though there were not many lines in his performance, the emotion he conveyed through his body language and facial expressions was outstanding. His performance is one that will stay with me for a long time.

A favourite moment was when Joe Millett, playing Peter King, opened the performance with a song. It was hauntingly beautiful and set up the following scene so brilliantly. Joe’s performance was fantastic, and his interaction with the other characters was very good to watch.

Hannah Wood, playing Leslie Heralds also stood out because of the way she carried herself on stage and the emotion you could see in her every movement. Hannah was playing such a difficult part, and I felt she really connected with the audience and left them thinking about what it would like to be in her character’s position.

The other actors, George Majin, Edward Whitbread, Ruby Belassie and Ellie Reeves, playing Jacob Hunt, Callum Cartwright, Mina Denbigh and Mind and Matter expert were all equally as brilliant and acted with a high level of professionalism.  As these performances were so fantastic, most of the play was very hard to watch, and I did find it hard to look into the faces of the actors as the subject matter being discussed was very intense.

The most successful part of the play was when the characters all conversed together in the final moments of the play. The characters were trying to process the loss and how they would live in the future with the loss and I loved how it left the conversation so open to discussion.

Leaving the theatre, I was left astounded by the talent of the writing, directing, and acting and feeling extremely reflective. Wasp is a reminder of the importance of talking to each other and being there to support one another and is above all, an unmissable performance.


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Leia Butler

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December 2021
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