The Smallest Story Ever Told – King’s Head Theatre until 22nd November

The Smallest Story Ever Told

★★★★

Guest Review by Francesca Mepham

The Smallest Story Ever Told is beautifully big at King’s Head Theatre

As part of King’s Head Theatre‘s #Festival45 which is celebrating new writing, R J Wilkinson‘s new play The Smallest Story Ever Told has been one of the new works selected and it’s very obvious to see just why. R J Wilkinson describes the play as a ‘comedy-drama about how to survive grief’ as it displays everything that is so joyous about living.

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Photo Credit Claire Bilyard

Directed by David Macintosh Loumgair this wonderfully crafted play was told in reverse order. This was a very integral part of a plot that started with a despairing husband Charlie Donnelly (Alastair Kirton) torn through his core with grief at a graveside not sure how to carry on with out his beloved wife. His wife Amy (Katharine Moraz) the audience discovers, has died from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, as the story unravels at a consistent pace. The irony of the play, is the Donnelley’s were the toast of children’s literature, but now this debilitating disease means Amy cannot translate her once sharp and creative mind on to paper for all to enjoy. This coupled with the effect of the disease on those closest to her, really translates in to something very moving in every second of the play, that is something quite rare.

Juliet Kinight as Dr Ursula, the doctor of Amy, gave a standout performance throughout the play. Knight who had such a calming effect, which at times seemed to be a voice of reason that could better any situation. This was a stunning casting, as at times it as though you were actually transported to a residential facility, where an attentive doctor would come in to your room and soothe as well as reassure, believing every single word she spoke.

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Photo Credit Claire Bilyard

Incredible performances from all the cast was something to behold, Kirton as Charlie often could make you want to weep and other times break out in laughter due to a natural flair at comedy. This was also the case for William De Coverly as the hilarious and big hearted Evan, the literary agent that Amy actually sees outside her window in the latter stage of the disease. Moraz is very engaging as this vibrant and brilliant mind who is withering rapidly, like a frightened flower in front of those she loves, which she performed with great sensitivity.

Although the performances were top notch, the ages of the cast was slightly confusing as the teenage son of the Donnelley’s Matt (Jamie Scott-Smith), looked not much younger than his parents which actually in many ways is a triumph to Scott-Smith’s acting, that you actually believed this was a nineteen year old, in inner turmoil after losing his mum to such a cruel disease.

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Photo Credit Claire Bilyard

The direction was spot on with a sense of isolation and lonliness being radiated from Amy in her pacing round the stage at certain points. It was very impressive, the telling of an animated by Charlie to Amy, using the stage with such physicality and vigour as if to convey another world and universe, just for a fleeting second, that beat the horrible reality facing the love of his life. It is definitely important to mention the final scene was beautifully poignant, delivering hope in the most simplistic way, that summarized the masterful direction displayed throughout.

It is safe to say King’s Head Theatre have delivered another superb new writing, which covers a subject that is heartbreaking but heart affirming too, as the response to it from it’s incredible cast made this play a staple in raising awareness to Alzheimer’s and the human condition. This is truly a remarkable new work from R J Wilkinson.

The Smallest Story Ever Told

★★★★

Guest Review by Francesca Mepham

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