On Wednesday 23rd January the A level Drama students and staff headed to The Theatre Royal Stratford East, London to see ‘The Unreturning’ by Frantic Assembly. An explosive piece of physical theatre that explored the profound effect that war has on young lives and asks: what does coming home really mean? What is home? And when experience has shattered you into a million pieces, will home help to put you together again, or treat you as an ugly truth it does not want to confront?
The stage was dominated by a revolving ship container that cleverly transitioned to represent different locations, with the actors using every conceivable aspect of the set; appearing and disappearing through the various doors and clambering up and over the vast structure. It was exhausting watching the performers explore not just the physical challenges but the emotional depths the stories took them to and gave us many thought-provoking moments to reflect on on our journey home and back at school.
When anyone asks why you would bother going to see live theatre when there’s hundreds of TV channels at our disposal at home, take them to a show like this. One where you feel every syllable from an actor emoting less than 30 feet away from you, sense the heaving of their chest as they wring every atom of anguish out of a superbly researched script and witness the skill that goes in to weaving those words around such a complex, technically accomplished production.
We are so lucky to have such theatre so easily accessible and reasonably priced - it’s worth noting that Stratford East Theatre offer first release tickets for all productions at £10!