It’s a subject that many people choose to ignore; gritty, uncomfortable and deeply disturbing. However, the forbidden relationship between a 15 year old student and her teacher sits at the core of this powerful play by Dirty Protest theatre company.
Penned by the talented Katherine Chandler, the play won the inaugural Wales Drama Award in 2012. With countless fantastic reviews, I knew I was in for something spectacular.
The production follows the lives of Steph, the scarred and underprivileged student, and Simon, the affluent but troubled teacher. On the surface, their lives could not be more different. Steph lives with her Mother – promiscuous and out of touch with her daughter’s issues – in a run down house. Picture a light bulb hanging from the ceiling, broken cupboard doors, empty fridge, broken cooker: the image of a poor and forgotten family. Simon lives with his wife Julia – prim, proper and hiding from reality – in a catalogue perfect house. They’ve got the cafetiere, the potted plants and the poppy filled garden. The clever set portrays both kitchens sat side by side with the two partners dipping in and out. Such a simple but effective way to encapsulate their parallel lives running in sync.
The acting from both teams was superb. The stark contrast across the set and the strikingly different portrayals of the alleged offence left the audience questioning the truth right up until the very last scene.
As accusations are thrown around and issues of class, truth and family relationships collide, the stories quickly become more and more intertwined. Chandler reflects poignantly society’s – or more specifically, the middle class community’s – attitude to the working class. Whilst Steph’s innocence is ripped from her hands and her words are mirrored as lies, the big bad wolf walks free. But a final twist in the story leaves the audience on the edge of their seat forcing them to take a hard look at the parallel lines between truth and deceit.
Parallel lines was a raw and compelling depiction of an ever-present issue in society. The intoxicating script and thought-provoking talent on stage was absolutely incredible. For hours afterwards I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t stop thinking about the metaphors and powerful images scattered throughout. Steph, played by Rachel Redford, was exceptional; for me she stole the show. My heart called out to her and to the childhood that had been cruelly snatched away.
As the play culminated in a shocking finale, I couldn’t lift my jaw from the floor. Immediately I turned to my partner and said “I would watch that again right now”… and it’s not often I feel like that.
Parallel Lines was simply fantastic. Even from this review I don’t think I do the play justice. It’s showing at Chapter until Saturday; if you haven’t already, I urge you to get a ticket and take yourself in to the world of Dirty Protest.