The cast and production team pictured above with artistic director Matthew Parker.
The Hope Theatre with the Artistic Director and “Offies” winner Matthew Parker at the helm, hosts an excellent quality of hard-hitting and challenging Theatre productions. Sam Edmunds was in extremely good hands as he brings his award-winning debut play Testament to this intimate theatre space found in the heart of Highbury and Islington.
Testament pushes your senses and emotions to an extremely heightened level of intensity. Finding the dark corners of mental illness which in this play has been bought on by grief and the inability to let Tess go. As we watch Max’s mind descend into despair which he still searches for her among the shadows. Not allowing himself to grieve as he wants to believe she is still out there alive and waiting for him.
Max played by Nicholas Shalebridge delivers a fast-paced heart rendering performance as he battles with severe depression and a now failed suicide attempt months after the death of his girlfriend Tess played by Jessica Frances. The play begins in the hospital where his condition is deteriorating rapidly and receiving the correct treatment is a race against time.
His brother Chris watches as his brother struggles through the immense pain. While he too battles with his own conscience and guilt. When asked to sign the hospital consent form in order to release the pressure on his brain from the fluid building up from the fall, he is keen for Max to be coherent enough to complete the task himself.
The fantastic lighting effects raise the senses as you see an outstanding performance by Shalebridge as his character battles with convulsions possibly an epileptic fit, as he relives moments from the fatal accident in his mind. Often talking to Tess and believing he is still living the memories that are consuming him.
The simple but extremely effective props used for the car accident memories are an absolute touch of genius. We see two damaged front panels of the car with working headlights used to simulate the car crash being manoeuvred by other cast members. As Max relives the fateful crash during the play piecing bits together as the play progresses. It’s only towards the end that we discover the truth about how and why the crash happened!
I really enjoyed the added element to the play where Jesus and Lucifer battle with words to influence which path Max will take next. Both of whom only happen to appear when his depression has taken hold and Max then seems to be existing in another dimension.
Upon speaking to Edmunds after press night he disclosed that “Shalebridge never wanted to be an actor…” if his performance in Testament is anything to go by it was definitely his calling in life as he has an incredible talent.
With many deeply sad moments and an extremely talented cast, this is certainly worth going to watch. Just be prepared to be emotionally challenged by some of the themes covered within the play.
Written by Sam Edmunds.
Director-Sam Edmunds and William Harrison
Lighting Designer-Alan Walden
Sound Designer-William Harrison
Assistant Director-Hannah Benson.
Playing from 14th May-1st June
at The Hope Theatre
207 Upper Street,
There will be a collection at the end of each performance in aid of CALM (campaign against living miserably).
CALM is the leading movement against suicide. Among the services they offer they help support families who are bereaved by suicide.
Their campaigns in the media are to raise awareness of suicide and challenge attitudes towards it through using various platforms like the theatre and music.
Please take a look at their website to see what services they offer or how you could donate to help them continue with this important work.