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Criterion Theatre
Grace (2015)
Written by Craig Wright
Wed 29th July to Sat 1st August
Director – Jordan Jackson
Assistant Director – Anne-marie Greene
Assistant Director – Lyle Jackson
Production Photos
Steve – Sean Glock
Sara – Georgia Kelly
Sam – Pete Gillam
Karl – Pete Bagley
Stage Manager – Lucy Hayton
Lighting Design – George Rippon
Sound Design – Paul Forey
Set Designer – Simon Sharpe
Music Composition – Jordan Jackson
Projection Design – Peter Gillam
Props i/c – Les Rahilly
Props – Alex Martis
Wardrobe i/c – Gennie Holmes
Wardrobe – Jessica Williams
Wardrobe – Olivia Holmes
Wardrobe – Maureen Liggins
Wardrobe – Pam Coleman
Wardrobe – Doreen Belton
Make-up Artist – Brenda Leedham
Make-up Artist – Anne-marie Greene
Lighting Operator – George Rippon
Lighting Operator – Alan Fenn
Lighting Technical Support – Karl Stafford
Lighting Technical Support – Paul Harrison
Sound Operator – Paul Forey
Sound Operator – Jordan Jackson
Prompt – Maggie Parkes
Set Build – Lisa Cornwall
Set Build – Terry Cornwall
Set Build – Joe Sharpe
Set Build – Frances Dixon
Set Build – Brian Nelson
Set Build – Charlie Adams
Set Build – Lukasz Nowacki
Set Build – Terry Rahilly
Set Build – Simon Sharpe
Set Build – Mandy Sutton
Set Build – Kevin Woods
Set Paint – Judy Talbot
Set Paint – Judy Sharpe
Caterer to the Cast and Crew – Judy Sharpe
Trailer Director – Lyle Jackson
Poster and Programme Design – Jordan Jackson
Poster and Programme Design – Lyle Jackson
Photographs – Lyle Jackson
The Programme
Devoted salesman, devoted husband, devoted Christian. Steve Hutchinson has everything he's prayed for. A life of worship and loyalty has given him a beautiful wife, a new home in sunny Florida, and a $14 million investment in his business plan. Or so he believes. But belief is best measured when it is tested. His wife is unhappy, their new neighbour is lost and events seem to conspire against Steve. We are all equal in the eyes of the Lord, but some may be more equal than others. The clock is ticking. It's over before it begins.
Darkly comic, tragic and provocative, Grace is the story of four people's experience of belief, justice and love.
“Are you a believer?” For Steve Hutchinson, who has apparently prayed his way to success, the answer is obvious. The strength of his belief is such that he tries to bring everyone around him into the shared delusion. As his faith is tested by the events leading to the play’s inexorable conclusion, it is increasingly all he has to turn to; but blind faith is a very dangerous thing.

“Are you a believer?” Jordan Jackson’s intimate production challenges the audience from the outset to consider what they believe in, and how it defines them – there’s a door for “Yes” and a door for “No”. A close, minimal set keeps us close to the action, and one can’t help but react to the explosive opening scene (also the finale) in which Steve, a broken man, shoots his wife, her lover, and finally himself. This is a play concerned with big questions about love and justice, and grace in the religious sense of the mercy given to us by God. It runs the risk of being weighed down in theology and telegraphed metaphors. Thankfully, the strong performances lift the characters out of archetypes and underscore the real, human tragedy of the events that unfold. I was particularly taken with Georgia Kelly’s Sara, who is the story’s emotional centre, and the genuine tenderness of her romance with Sam is devastating because we know what happens next. Despite the darkness, there is also a strong vein of humour running through the play, though the laughter it draws is a little nervous.

Grace is smart, and it’s stylish, too. The cacophony of the opening scene is achieved through a combination of projection and effective sound design. The ‘rewind’ effect at the beginning is particularly slick, and every time the play interferes with chronology, it does it well. The soundtrack consists almost exclusively of a ticking clock, relentless and ripe with symbolism. It reminds us of the inevitability of the ending at the same time as it grounds us in the minutiae of these people’s lives. On occasion, the ticking bleeds into scenes. The effect is ominous. This is theatre of catastrophe, and tension runs through the entire play. Even Steve’s frequent beatific grin is just the right side of manic (to begin with), and Sam is one of the most anxious characters ever written for stage. The set functioning as both apartments, sometimes simultaneously, is a reminder that in such close quarters, a collision is unavoidable. (That we don’t ever confuse the two apartments is a result of clever lighting.)

Grace is a darkly compelling tragicomedy about faith and what it does to people. It’s intense, troubling, funny, complex, and lays its characters bare without pity. As Steve starts to crack under the pressure of his own faith, you might find yourself hoping for things to end differently this time. But it’s far too late for that.
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