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TNC Fringe Archive 2009 
Theatre Review


By Claire Urwin 

The Spaces on The Mile
Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Nothing can prepare you for award-winning playwright Claire Urwin’s new play "Stitches", which is having its world premiere at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival. At times it is powerful and intense, and at other times she brings on such sweetness and beauty that it will leave you wanting more. Her amazing ability as a writer has given five talented actresses access to one of the most inventive and creative playwrights of their generation.

Stitches takes place after the Firefloods have destroyed most of the earth and survivors are forced to become either Rafters or Floaters as they enter the "Cinderage". The play centres around a group of young women who are set to work in the Department of Flora & Fauna who are in mourning as one of their group, Issy, has been promoted to the next phase. Liby, Web, Nettie, and Bel spend some time trying to cope with this loss until they get a new member of their group, Amy. The new arrival brings with her a letter, and throughout the rest of the scene there is growing tension between the group and the new girl. Even in this new world, this "Cinderage", there is a class system between the Rafters and the Floaters, which forms part of the tension between Bel and Nettie.

The play deals with the nature of their survival and what their role is in getting society back to the way it was. Urwin uses some very smart and gentle dialogue for her characters, which creates such a warmth and innocence that you honestly start to feel as though her characters have gone through this catastrophe. Some of the lines that the cast deliver are with such ease and wonderment that their innocence shines through.

There is a darkness in the play that is quite elusive, but through some slips of the tongue and questions being asked, you get a real sense that all is not as good as the women think. This again is another aspect of the believability of Urwin’s script. She has made these women prisoners who believe they are doing something that is their duty. Their names, family, and history are all gone to them now and they are left in the ‘before time’. Their duty is the three R’s; Research, Remember, and Rebuild.

You don’t find out anything about the people who have put them there to hear real stories about people who have moved beyond the final stage (Ministry of Biography) and at one point, Nettie asks if it is daylight outside, which makes you wonder if they are confined to the smallness of the stage. This is no doubt down to director Rajiv Nathwani, who seems to have a great understanding of the piece and was able to create a set and atmosphere that gave the play its life.

All of the cast and Urwin are graduates from the University of Manchester, and on watching this play, if I could offer any advice to any person wanting to take up acting, it would be simply to join the UMSU Drama Society.

"You want to know more, and you want to follow these women (noting a lack of mention of men) and find out more about the "Cinderage" and this new world."

Each member of the cast brings real life to the characters that they play in such a way that it is guaranteed to make you smile. Each brings real life to their characters, and you almost get a feeling that there is a small part of their own personality in them. Some of their lines and rationale illustrate how lost they seem to be in the "Cinderage", but how incredibly beautiful this play is. Vanessa Fogarty as Bel is simply marvellous on stage and seems to relish in this role.  But this doesn’t take anything away from Caitlin, Jessica, Claire, and Elizabeth as an ensemble. They work perfectly together, and through most of the play I leaned over totally lost in this whole production.

Claire Urwin has written an intelligent, beautiful, and thought-provoking play. You want to know more, and you want to follow these women (noting a lack of mention of men) and find out more about the "Cinderage" and this new world. 

Five actresses, one director, and one award-winning playwright bring an original, beautiful, and thought-provoking play to the Fringe...This needs to be seen!’ 

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