REVIEW: Dead People Don't Have Secrets; Byteback Theatre

Lewis Pugh and Henry Blackburn as Ray and Dean. (s)
Lewis Pugh and Henry Blackburn as Ray and Dean. (s)

Forget dealing with complex issues in bite-size chunks - Byteback Theatre’s new production plunges audiences into a dark cavern of drama and leaves a harsh taste in the mouth.

Dead People Don’t Have Secrets is a boundary-pushing tale exploring the consequences of secrets and lies and tackling the subject of sexual assault head-on, exploring its wide-ranging impact and shining light on every crack of pain. I for one applauded the cast with tears in my eyes.

Olivia Sutcliffe as Abi. (s)

Olivia Sutcliffe as Abi. (s)

This challenging play staged last Friday at Burnley Youth Theatre was cut with suspense and wrapped up in sheaths of physical theatre, not only creating an abundance of intrigue, but also translating complex issues into something more digestible.

Particularly impressive was the use of monologues written in rhyme: terrific poetry which added further bite.

The entire team (directors, cast and production) should be applauded for dealing maturely with the difficult issues of suicide and sexual assault.

Each actor - Lewis Pugh, Isha Bashir, Olivia Sutcliffe, Henry Blackburn, Alex Abrahams, Liam Cavanagh and Matthew Barnett - weaved a web of complicated emotions and behaviours to deliver powerful performances.

But as intense as the show was, light was sprinkled among the darkness, thanks to Alex Abrahams’ super comic timing.

Throughout, the play hit the audience with clout after clout of drama and yet dealt sensitively with its themes: offering realistic and carefully drawn-up motivations behind each character’s extreme behaviour, it refused to stereotype them for a cheap dramatic shot.

Byteback, the brainchild of Burnley Youth Theatre, will take the play to Edinburgh Fringe Festival later this month.

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