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What’s in a name?

Quite a lot, it turns out, in this revival of Duncan Macmillan’s searingly honest ‘People, Places and Things’, now showing at London’s Trafalgar Theatre in Whitehall.

Multi-award winning actor Denise Gough won the Laurence Olivier Award and the Critics’ Circle Award in New York (both 2016) for her blistering performance as Emma, an actor with a metamorphic backstory who enters rehab to conquer her dependable demons of drug and alcohol addiction.

Eight years on, her performance is still searingly hypnotic; she commands the stage, our attention and her story. Her utterly credible performance is essential to deliver the understated but earthshattering wrong footing of the play’s second half, which audibly took the audience’s breath away.

Gough’s ensemble support includes a brilliant Sinead Cusack as the mother figures, Malachi Kirby as fellow addict Mark, Danny Kirrane as nominally determined Foster and Ryan Hutton, fresh from the RSC’s fabulous Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Only Fools and Horses, developing and displaying the breadth of his talents. Every actor on stage is compelling.

Key to all Macmillan’s discourse is the theme of uncertainty and discomfort, picked up and reflected in the stunning set and sound design. Actors crawl through walls and furniture, lighting effects, which seem to have gone up a notch in theatre design this year, are beautifully conceived.

Readers of ‘Living with Disability’ with sensitivity to sound should take the warnings in this production very seriously. Award-winning designer Tom Gibbons creates a soundscape that’s uncomfortable and unrelenting in places – including during the interval. The environment is designed to reflect the turmoil of addiction, the chaos of modern life and to accentuate the relief of silence.

‘People, Places and Things’ is must-see, original, thought-provoking theatre exploring truly modern issues and deserves 2hrs 20 minutes of your time.

There are also:

Audio Described performances: Sat 13 July 2.30pm and Thu 25 July, 7.30pm

British Sign Language Interpreted performance: Sat 20 July, 2.30pm

Captioned performances: Sat 6 July, 2.30pm & Tue 16 July, 7.30pm.

The Trafalgar Theatre’s recent renovation has ensured the whole auditorium is accessible, with very comfortable leg room, and removable aisle-end seating with excellent visibility for wheelchair users and your companions.

The stalls are accessed via a lift (check the size of your wheelchair with the theatre before booking) and really attentive staff were on hand throughout the evening to assist people with a range of mobility issues on the night ‘Living with Disability’ attended the show.

The theatre is right at the top of London’s iconic Whitehall, close to Trafalgar Square and within easy, flat access of Charing Cross overground and underground stations as well as multiple bus routes.

'People, Places & Things' runs until August 10. To book visit

Pictured: Danny Kirrane as Foster and Denise Gough as Emma in People, Places & Things.



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