There is almost nothing quite like youthful ambition and determination, and indeed there are examples of people caring for children caring for older parents, so why wouldn’t that can’t it work the other way around? Cassie (Alex Brain) watches over Tin (Michaela Murphy) and Kit (Emily McGlynn) after their mother performs a disappearing act. It logically follows that no one really knows why she left, or where she is, or if she’s coming back: it’s not like she’s there to ask. The problem in this gripping story is that there is an alternative option, in the form of Mark and Alice (voiced by Andrew and Chantal Mackley respectively), adoptive parents who wish to adopt Tin and Kit.
Murphy and McGlynn do a magnificent job of behaving in an impressionable way like children their characters’ age would. Brain’s Cassie is arguably more articulate than a hesitant teenager who would just like to be left alone to do things, though that’s more than excusable here – if anything, non-communication doesn’t make very good theater . There was a show stoppage at the performance I attended, and rather than leaving and waiting to be called back on stage, the actors stayed and engaged with the audience for as long as needed, and quite honestly, it was the best show stop I’ve ever sat in, retaining, even out of character, a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Using a loop pedal to create a harmony of sounds is never without risk, even if the trio succeeds. The challenges Cassie faces aren’t just in the form of the local authority, social workers and college tutors who all seem to want their pound of flesh, but it’s also difficult when her younger siblings tell things to supposedly trusted classmates, who then tell these matters are “confidential” to others, and so on, until the whole school is aware of the situation, while being aware that it is supposed to remain secret. But what is Cassie supposed to do? Sanctions or punishments would likely only make things worse, and anyway, the trio’s current circumstances aren’t their sisters’ fault.
Then there’s the soundscape (Imogen Mason). Usually the sound effects and music that appear almost constantly like here would irritate me, although in this production it adds significantly to the spectacle: it’s clear, for example, when the girls are outside watching the stars (or ‘the lights’ in the title of the show), or in a bowling alley. on Cassie’s part is just, for her, to do the right thing. I ended up on Cassie’s side, actually – I don’t really regret it but I still don’t know if my time in college Was definitely worth it, and if I found myself in his shoes, I like to think I’d have him take a similar stance.Not an easy watch, but a captivating one nonetheless.
Comment by Chris Omaweng
Can children be parents? When Cassie’s mother disappears, the teenager wants to take care of her sisters on her own. Is she the right person to parent now, or should she let the adoptive parents adopt her sisters and start a new family? Based on real events and interviews with children in care, and featuring live music, Cassie and the Lights examines our idea of what makes a family.
Cast: Alex Brain (they), Emily McGlynn (she/her), Michaela Murphy (she/her)
Live music performed by Imogen Mason
Written, directed and designed by Alex Howarth (he/him)
Produced by Amelia Campbell (her)
Music composed by Ellie (her/her) and Imogen Mason (her/her)
Light and video design by Rachel Sampley (her)
Scenography assisted by Georgia Cusworth (her)
Marketing design by Casey Jay Andrews (her)
Patch of Blue present
CASSIE AND THE LIGHTS
A new play with live music, based on a true story
Until August 28, 2022 at the Edinburgh Fringe
Big Belly, Underbelly Cowgate, 12:30 p.m.