Harrogate at Royal Court
Harrogate at Royal Court

Harrogate

Published October 25, 2016

What’s it all about?

If ever there were a theme to make an audience uncomfortable, surely it’s the one at the heart of Al Smith and HighTide’s Harrogate. Against the backdrop of the dysfunctional familial relationships of Him (Nigel Lindsay) and Her (Sarah Ridgeway), the play explores themes of childhood, adulthood, and all the blurred lines in between.
Al Smith’s writing also shines a light on female sexuality, from Her’s story of a mechanic who wishes to be blinded following an operation that will disfigure his wife, to Him, who struggles to accept that his wife is growing older, instinctively turning away as she gets changed.

Who’s in it?

The cast list is short. Nigel Lindsay plays Him, while Sarah Ridgeway plays Her. Nigel is excellent in the role, wholly believable as the everyman dad, veering into unsettling territory as he questions his daughter perhaps too much about her weekend away with her boyfriend, and standing perhaps just a bit too close. Sarah Ridgeway is startling as a triptych of characters, from daughter, to mother, to a third character that would give away too much to reveal.

What should I look out for?

The writing. Al Smith’s script is packed full of stories within a story, unsettling emotions, and surprising humour for such dark subject matter.

Sarah Ridgeway’s compelling performance. Even if there were more to distract in the set (it’s narrow, stark white, and bare) you wouldn’t be able to take your eyes off her.

What’s being said on Twitter?

 

In a nutshell?

A disquieting examination of family and ageing, with razor-sharp writing, outstanding performances, and plenty of questions for the audience.