Culture

Review: Parallel Lines, Chapter Arts

Here at Quench Culture we love a good offering of home-grown talent, and perhaps there’s no better than ‘Parallel Lines’. Cardiff-based playwright Katherine Chandler created ‘Parallel Lines’ in 2012, and the following year it ran for fourteen nights at Chapter (arguably our city’s best venue for independent art and drama). Since then, popular demand has meant it’s been re-adapted by Dirty Protest, an award-winning Welsh theatre group, so now it’s not only back,it’s been revamped and it’s even better than ever.

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‘Parallel Lines’ stars just four characters – mother and daughter duo Melissa and Steph (played by Jan Anderson and Lowri Palfrey), who tend to disagree on most things, and husband and wife team Simon and Julia (played by Gareth Pierce and Sara Lloyd- Gregory), who think life’s treated them pretty nicely… until now.

But when one allegation hits the ground, these relationships are forced to turn on their head.

‘Parallel Lines’ is the proud recipient of the Wales Drama Award; Theatre Critics of Wales Best Production in the English Language; and a finalist of this year’s Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and it’s clear to see why.

The story focuses mainly on Steph, who, at 15, is smart but doesn’t feel she has anyone to turn to. Melissa is too busy working on her brazen charms to dedicate much attention to her daughter, so suddenly it becomes glaringly obvious that the only one to see any potential in her is Simon. Steph considers him sensitive and worth listening to. The only problem is, he’s her teacher.

‘Parallel Lines’ is a dramatic show bringing to life the effects of denial and deceit. While in most occasions its dialogue speaks for itself, the actors also incorporate some striking movements, such as throwing furniture and ripping pages of the diary that provides the plot’s catalyst – the diary Steph wrote, accusing Simon of inappropriate relations.

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It was evident that the audience were on the edges of their seats throughout the 90-minute performance, of which the effects were heightened by the small, intimate stage and audience. Whilst it is hard to pinpoint the best scene, the whole production examined the themes of authority, class and the status quo, all set within the relatable environment of modern Cardiff.

As well as the group dynamic, seeing how each character was individually affected worked was successfully delivered by an array of outstanding actors and actresses. Despite the main roles being Steph and Simon, it was interesting to see the background contexts of Melissa and Julia. The most prominent example of this being how the scandal left them with no option but to re-examine their own identities.

The play was gritty and courageous, and I would definitely recommend seeing what future plans Katherine Chandler; Chapter Arts Centre; Dirty Protest and director Catherine Paskell have up their sleeves.

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Reviewed by Ellie Philpotts

PARALLEL LINES

For more information please visit http://www.chapter.org/parallel-lines OR http://www.dirtyprotesttheatre.co.uk/

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