Some Place Better Review - Theatre N16

Some Place Better, written by Joanna Carrick and Charlotte Jenkins, is not only a play. It focuses on the subject of children in care, not through a writer’s eyes, but through the words of a young woman written at the time in the form of a diary. It puts a magnifying glass over the care system and presents it as a piece of theatre and art.

Red Rose Chain is an established theatre company in Ipswich which puts on numerous work both in the Avenue Theatre and also in the community. Some Place Better was performed at Theatre N16 on the night I attended and I would love to see it have a future or longer run either at N16 or elsewhere.

The story is about a teenage girl, Immie, who is thrown from pillar to post during her life within the care system. Her mother has three children and is finding it hard to cope, which leads to the two eldest consequently taken into care. This is a retelling based on the true life story of Charlotte Jenkins, which perfectly and comically captures the ups, downs and raw truth of life in care.

With an all female cast and female director, it is a brilliant depiction of the unimaginable. Imagine, if you can, being removed from your family and forced to live with strangers for a few weeks at a time. There were ups and downs for Immie, but from what I saw, the downs certainly outnumbered the ups.

Emma Swan plays the strong and resilient Immie who battles not only the multiple families and homes she finds herself in, but also her own thoughts which she cannot be allowed to voice. A compelling and detailed performance which grabbed the attention and empathy of the audience.

Fizz Waller plays literally every other character that appears in the play. A truly skilled and impressive performance, not only because she was able to capture the essence of each character, but also because she gave us an insight to the other side; to how the foster carers have troubles as well.

A mention must be given to the glorious and brave Charlotte Jenkins. Not only is the story based on her life, she also co-wrote the production and starred in it as well. A gifted and raw talent is portrayed in her character that captured the audience’s attention and pulled on the heartstrings of everyone watching. No spoilers, but Charlotte’s involvement was cleverly disguised and it worked so brilliantly.

A mention must be given to the set design and direction of the production. Joanna Carrick, David Newborn and Jack Heydon manage to capture a simple yet detailed set in the form of cardboard boxes to represent the different locations. Not only did it provide clarity to the whereabouts of the characters, it also portrayed an equivalent to the packing of boxes, uprooting your life and moving somewhere new.

In short, this 55 minute production left us with a mixture of feelings (I love it when a play does that!) Certainly we saw how hard it was for Immie to carry on during such a tough time, at such a young age; but we also saw a number of positives. The production ended with such a lovely, uplifting message: that Immie is strong enough to deal with what life throws at her.

Unfortunately, last night marked the final performance of Some Place Better, but I’m sure there will be a future for it. Whether that be a long run at The Avenue Theatre in Ipswich, or a further life for it in London, this story deserves to be seen and heard.

(c) 2017 Molly Miller

Immie - Emma Swan
All Other Characters - Fizz Waller

Playwright - Charlotte Jenkins and Joanna Carrick
Director - Joanna Carrick
Designer - Joanna Carrick, David Newborn, Jack Heydon
Technician - Chester Ward
Stage Manager - Laura Bailey
Carpenter - Rob Young
Production Assistant - Rei Mordue, Leo George

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