Jadek (Polish for grandfather) by Francesca Joy, opens with Tasha laying on the floor, curled up, in her 94 year old Grandad’s house.
York Theatre Royal’s studio is a pretty small performance space and tonight it was laid out in such a way that, as the audience filtered into the room, we had to walk across the set and through the lives of the characters we were yet to meet. In a way, the sight was quite shocking – we passed the skeletal ruins of a sofa, cardboard boxes and discarded items across the floor. And then, as we passed a coffee table, there lay the body of a young woman, positioned in such way that we had to step over or around her to reach our seats. This set up raised questions in our minds that we hoped would be answered, it forced us to take a walk through the lives of the characters of Jadek and enabled us to form an instant connection with them.
In Jadek, the studio was transformed into a down at heel suburban living room where a granddad and his granddaughter Tasha are doing their best to rub along. Superficially, their lives couldn’t be more different.
He was born in Poland; she is very much British. He is blind; she has seen more than a young girl ever should. He is cut off from the outside world; she is forced to experience its harsh reality every day.
While a familial relationship – albeit a seriously dark and disturbing one – is at the heart of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, a new play from Yorkshire writer Francesca Joy explores the same subject from a very different place.
Jadek is a semi-autobiographical piece of work from Joy about a woman in her 20s moving in with her blind, 94-year-old Polish grandfather.
The play explores how the unexpected coming together of this odd couple affected both their lives. Like the Hull Truck production, audiences will see the way older and younger relatives impact on each other’s lives, although Joy’s play comes from a very different place.
When playwright Francesca Joy moved in with her grandad she didn’t expect it would result in a new work for her company imagine if based on their odd couple living arrangements.
“Jadek is very loosely based on me living with my blind Polish grandad, so it’s not autobiographical,” says Francesca. “It’s how we connect, so it’s not using our real stories just for a bit of fucking drama, a bit of theatre. I spent a long time making up Jadek so going from a real place, but then making up what actually happens.”
For many ex-offenders, readjusting to life outside prison can be extremely challenging. It is often a time when they are at their most vulnerable and the risk of re-offending is high. It is this transition period, and the challenges it presents, that is the focus of a scheme developed by Leeds-based theatre company imagine if.
This play follows the traumatic and tumultuous dynamics of an abusive relationship between a young couple from Leeds, Rosa and Niko, played by Francesca Joy and Prince Plockey with Ursula Mohan playing Rosa’s Grandma, Lily.
imagine if’s You Forgot the Mince presents a moving descent into an abusive relationship. ‘Love Me Tender’ by Elvis Presley ominously plays as we enter the space, setting the tone for this 60-minute piece that explores insecurities, violence and what it means to be in love with someone.
This ‘boy meets girl’ tale is set in Leeds, where Rosa (Francesca Joy) lives with her Grandma Lily (Ursula Mohan) when a window salesman called Niko (Prince Plockey) visits them. Their meeting leads to them becoming involved in a whirlwind romance that occurs alongside Rosa gearing up to attend university in London, something that kickstarts Niko’s insecurities. Read more here…
Amazingly thought-provoking, powerful and emotional, You Forgot The Mince was performed in Swindon on Saturday at the intimate Shoebox Theatre.
Theatre company and registered charity Imagine If was behind this production, which took us on a raw and honest journey between two young people, showing how their love for one another turned sour.
The play was inspired by real life events and told the tale of a modern abusive relationship. Read more here…
The last time I left the theatre completely overwhelmed was in 2014 after National Theatre’s The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable.
For their latest production Leeds-based production company Imagine If operate on much a smaller scale than the National Theatre, so you can imagine my jubilation when I was left stunned by a cast of three at Swindon’s Shoebox Theatre.
You Forgot the Mince is a ground-breaking production which delves into, and explores, the complexities of abusive relationships. Read more here…