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REVIEW | Wish You Weren't Here - Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse

AD | Tickets were gifted in exchange for honest review

Tw/Cw Wish You Weren't Here contains - Topics covering grief, body image and sexual themes with also Haze, Flashing Lights and flashing.

Photo Credit: Chris Saunders

Last night saw the world premiere of the co-produced, with Sheffield Theatres, production of Theatre Centres Wish You Weren’t Here

Playing in the Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse, Wish You Weren’t Here talks about some of the most important topics in today's society, and how both Mother and Daughter see them. Wish You Weren’t Here follows 16 year old Mila who has finished her GCSEs, and Mum Lorna who both take what is supposed to be a celebratory trip to Scarborough but both discover that not only the town needs attention but also their relationship does too. Wish You Weren’t Here explores and discusses topics and themes such body image, climate change, grief and sexual themes. 

My initial thoughts going into the show with the show being an hour long; how would this story pan out in a short space of time and how will the two performers connect to each other to get the story across and hold the audiences throughout. 

Wish You Weren’t Here runs for 1 hour without an interval. Like always, my reviews are 100% honest and I will always justify my ratings, thoughts and feelings, always giving constructive feedback and my opinions are my own. 

Photo Credit: Chris Saunders

Written By Katie Redford, Redford gives us a brillant look at both generations and how they both see the world, with Redford's writing displaying themes such as climate change and the subject of bringing Nan’s ashes in a sandwich bag on holiday, with humour, this helps the show's themes to be not so in your face. While the witty humour is sprinkled across the first half of the show, and therefore allows the audience to actually laugh and understand some of the topics through wit, there is very much still is a locked focus of giving the audience the message about the topics that are discussed throughout and also to stay on track to tell a story of a mother and daughter reconnecting. The switch of tone in the latter end of the piece dampens the laughter a little, and as a result allows focus on what the message of the show is truly about. With the quickness of Redford’s writing of the short snappy scenes, which are admired and flowed beautifully and helped us to pay attention on the action, Redford keeps reinforcing a theme so it doesn’t get lost along the way, or introducing one to add an extra layer to the either the narrative or character. Redford’s skill and talent in writing theatre is well thought out, knowing exactly how to keep audiences attention without them getting bored or lost with the plot. Redford explores some of the most primary issues and topics of today's world carefully and considerately, whilst not over complicating, but also not majorly simple dialogue which is effective enough to be understandable for all. Redford makes great efforts creating a beautiful piece of theatre for today's world. 

Directed by Rob Watt, Watt takes the script and everything about this piece and adds direction which is in its simplest form possible, it's not full out Watt's direction is concise and consistent throughout the hour, with a bit to take in through the book, Watt's direction for the show felt natural and easy to watch, which worked with Redford's snapshot scenes. Watt's direction is great and also is clear and condensed, which backs Redford's beautifully written piece. 

Photo Credit: Chris Saunders

With the show being only two performers, it's hard to hold the audience's attention, and to make sure you are both on the same level of energy with one and another to deliver a piece of theatre no matter what it is. Both Eleanor Henderson and Olivia Pentelow, both who are making their Sheffield Theatres Debut, wipe away my little worry of being able to keep the audience's attention through their characterisation in the roles of Lorna and Mila. 

Eleanor Henderson, plays Lorna, Henderson brings a great perspective of how the older generation see the world today. Henderson’s careful choice of acting to respond to Pentelow’s line delivery, as Mila, is great to watch, this also links in brilliantly with the creation of the character, which Henderson shows through an array of skills and emotion throughout. Henderson works well with Pentelow, both match the mood and tone in each scene and still keep to their character personality, it feels like Henderson takes every bit of information about the character and adds a variety of extra layers to help the character of Lorna, overall Henderson's performance is respectable and has great quality.

Olivia Pentelow, creates an honest performance as Mila, Pentelow strives to create the honesty through line delivery, face expression and movement. Pentelow delivers the wit perfectly which makes the audience laugh, and is also believable in the delivery of the character. Pentelow shows emotional range and is easily able to switch from scene to scene well. Pentelow holds the audience's attention throughout and plays the character with ease. Pentelow is a performer with great ability and shows skill which is clearly visible in the performance throughout.

Photo Credit: Chris Saunders

With a very simple set by Bethany Wells, Wells places small platforms in a V shape which can be imagined into various locations throughout the show, with lighting creating a true life sense of the location and time by Jess Brigham.

Wish You Weren’t Here is an honest piece of theatre that examines the topics of today. There's nothing really much to fault in this production, and I would recommend you watch the show. It is cleverly written and directed and with only being an hour and if you don’t usually watch plays Wish You Weren’t Here could be your starting point.


Wish You Weren't Here plays at the Sheffield Theatres Playhouse until 10 Feb 2024

Photo Credit: Chris Saunders

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