I’m grateful to Katie Fraser for sending me this review which she wrote for Disability Arts Online.
DAO reader Katie Fraser celebrates how an Unlimited production, In Water I’m Weightless, transforms and challenges her perceptions… about herself.
This wonderfully written piece by Kaite O’Reilly challenges society’s preconceptions about disability. It is a joy to watch from the very beginning and it transforms thinking right from the start when the actors Nick Phillips , Dave Toole , Karina Jones, Sophie Stone, and the very lovely Mat Fraser (my friend!), sadly minus Mandy Collleran because of injury, come bounding on to the Purcell Room stage. Taking my seat right near the stage, I got a really good view. And it all took my breath away.
Watching it made me challenge my own conceptions about my own disability (having a “hidden” disability which you would only see from the inside of me, and not on the outside) and how people and society can belittle me sometimes. But all the actors on the stage take away all the barriers, and obstacles. Kaite’s fabulous way of writing it with empthy and understanding all adds to the excitement when these talented actors take away all the misconceptions and draw you into their world and their beiiefs.
The actors all have a part to play where they are characterising different personas. Sometimes funny. Sometimes dark and edgy. But there are also the fabulous visualisations on these huge giant bubble-like spheres suspended above the Purcell Room stage. This adds to the thrill and the way that you see disability in a new light.
Fraser, with his boy soldier monologue, shocks you by kicking and stamping the floor and falling to the ground with an almighty thump, then he manages to get back up again, fabulously. Then there’s Phillips with his funny tales of how people would think he wouldnt live on his own – by making an almighty mess. But, hey, that’s what I do! And that’s what I empathise with. And the way that Toole brilliantly goes around his fellow cast members speaking to them as a person without a disability would, as is the theme running throughout this show I have seen. It ends with the most darkest monologue ever. But it all adds up to make this show.
I was nattering on about it when I got home. About how my two friends Mr Toole and Mr Fraser, and the other members of the cast, showed me how to be more positive within myself and challenge the way society sees disabled people like me, and the rest of us.
DAO reader Katie Fraser is a theatre addict who loves disability theatre and dance. She is soon starting training to be a dance leader with ActOne ArtsBase in St Albans. She works for Hertfordshire PASS in Stevenage, which is a user-driven organisation enabling disabled people to gain employment. She is also a trustee of the Alliance For Inclusive Education which enables children with impairments to have support in mainstream education.