Sarah Crawford offers her thoughts on the last Mermaids play of the semester.
Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down revolves around three women as they relay their interactions with one violent, hateful man who has greatly impacted each of their lives. The action of the play is communicated primarily through monologues, and the women are slowly revealed to us through their speeches, not meeting until their stories culminate in a final dramatic climax.
Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down was an entertaining, thought-provoking performance that seemed especially significant in light of its opening on the International Day Against Violence Against Women. The actresses all gave inspiring performances and seemed to have clear understanding of their characters’ actions and motivations. Eleanor Burke gave a particularly impressive portrayal of the conflicted but strong young mother, Ruby. Annabel Steele also gave a notable performance as Jodie, a woman still struggling to understand events that happened during her childhood, though it would have been nice to see a greater variety of emotion from her throughout the show. Additionally, although she gave a solid performance, Jen Grace needed to show more distinction between her character as a child and later as a victim of domestic abuse. Her character didn’t have enough growth, and rather than seeing her desperation build steadily as she suffered increasingly at the hands of her husband, it didn’t seem to change enough, making his eventual murder somewhat unconvincing. As a whole, the show unfortunately lacked the intensity necessary for the final scene.
The show’s set was dynamic and striking, with an array of furniture piled haphazardly upstage and a newspaper river running through the middle. Additionally, the use of background music throughout the show was a bold – but ultimately very effective – decision, and I hope to see more Mermaids’ shows employ this technique in the future. The music could have been improved at certain points through changes in volume to fit with the mood in certain scenes, but for the most part it definitely added to the show’s overall impact and I applaud the director (Helena Jacques-Morton) and technician (Alice McDougall) for making such a daring choice. Unfortunately, the show’s lighting felt abrupt and distracting, rather than adding to the show’s drama as intended. Though I liked the back-lighting at the beginning and end of the show, after twenty minutes or so it was suddenly turned off in favor of a full stage wash, only to be quickly turned on again at the end. It would have been much better and less disruptive to keep it continuous throughout the play.
The blocking seemed to lack purpose at times – and this began before the show had even started. As the audience took their seats, the actresses wandered aimlessly around the stage, which continued throughout the production. Whilst an interesting concept, it might have been less distracting if the actresses had remained still, or if they had simply moved around a little less. Despite this, it was a good choice to keep all three actresses on stage throughout the entire performance, though this led to some uncomfortable character transitions. There were moments in the show when characters suddenly transitioned into other characters to take part in a new scene, and though this was humorous at times, it might have been less awkward if a voice recording was used in place of the actresses.
Though it may have benefited from a few critiques, Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down was a very moving and energetic production. Despite the challenges of presenting a monologue-based script, I was very impressed with the actresses’ ability to keep the audience engaged and invested throughout the show.
STARS: * * * *
Photos kindly provided by Mermaids