A pared back stage leaves the audience to use its imagination as this piece is driven through character and description. With such a creative team behind it this was not a challenge, writes Susan Hallissey.
‘A political fairytale for adults’ this play is about secrets, responsibility, exploitation and greed to name but a few aspects of Angela Clerkin’s The Secret Keeper.
All the characters were known by their trade: the chemist, the baker, the innkeeper’s wife (even though she wasn’t married). This added to the fairytale illusion as we were introduced to them through the eyes of ‘The Good Daughter’ (Angela Clerkin) who relays the story from her bedroom.
Desperate to become the keeper of her father’s (Niall Ashdown) deepest, darkest, secret, how much can the Good Daughter take? Once Father’s secret is revealed a weight is lifted from his shoulders as he invites the whole town to confide in his good, and by now miraculous, daughter. After all, he could become Mayor. However, secrets of illicit affairs, government cover-ups and murder take their toll. ‘Mother’ (Anne Odeke) gives some great asides to the audience and also reveals her own terrible secret, along with Hazel Maycock the ‘Chemist’ and the family’s best friend. The secrets take the form of Magpies handed to the good daughter after each telling. Why confess to the church when you have the ‘Good Daughter?’
The second act ramps up the darkness as the Magpies hold an ‘Extraordinary Secret Meeting’ demanding their secrets back. Through the humour they actually touch on relevant issues such as mental health.
I was totally immersed in the Secret Keeper’s world, aided by a great character driven story, solid performances, and the clever use of lighting and music. I found it captivating, funny and inventive. Nevertheless, I won’t let the secret out…Go and take a look if you like magical tales with a darkly comic side, laugh out loud moments and an undertone of malevolence. Scrumptious!
The Secret Keeper is on at Ovalhouse, 52-54 Kennington Oval, SE11 5SW until October 21st. Times: 7.30pm. Admission: £15, £10 concs. Phone: 0207 582 7680.
It will transfer to Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, SE10 for one day on 27th October