Northern Rascals’ latest show, SHED, tackles mental health issues in such a beautiful and thought-provoking way. SHED is a well-written and well-performed piece of art that should not be overlooked. At least one of the three stories is relatable to every young person and will have you talking about the show for days afterwards.
Northern Rascals is a multi-disciplinary performance company based here in Yorkshire. Its mission is to create art using dance and theatre, inspired and driven by social conscience, placing original storytelling into the current socio-political climate. Northern Rascals is led by Anna Holmes and Sam Ford, who have created an inspiring nationally recognised performance company. The latest production, SHED, proves how much creativity and talent they have at their disposal.
Talented artists tackle issues of mental health
SHED uses digital art, spoken word and contemporary dance to raise awareness of the issues young people face with mental health. The show’s four principle talented artists all deserve recognition for displaying such hard emotions beautifully, and most importantly, believably.
The cast, made up of Grace Ford, Flora Grant, Theo Arran and Soul Roberts, plus voice acting by Lamin Touray, Brendan Barclay and Anna Holmes, is simply the best part about this show. The clever writing by Anna Holmes gives a great tone to the trio of stories and had me thinking about my own experiences with loneliness and love.
The show is designed so that the audience feels they are looking into the lives of the people portrayed by the actors. I personally enjoy this idea because it shows that you never really know what is going on behind the closed doors and curtains of people living their lives.
The set itself, while simple in its appearance, is great and no matter where you are sitting in the audience you get a clear view of the show – so nothing can be missed. This was a concern I had before seeing the show, but once the show began I quickly realised that everyone could see the performance perfectly as intended. My favourite part of the set was the digital art that also tied into the show itself. I think the way shapes, colours, people and words are shown also helped display what each story was trying to tell and set the mood.
Impressive writing brings impressive performances
The three stories themselves are impressively written, choreographed and performed.
The first story tackles friendship between two friends and, while one of them goes off to university and makes strides in their life, the other has a sense of loneliness and feels like he is lost. The second story shows the struggles that come with love. The brilliantly entangled dancing between the couple displays how one minute you can be in sync with one another and the next it’s awkward and painful.
Finally, the third story is about the misogyny that women face and the effect it has had on these two friends all of their lives. The digital art really struck me with this story the most. The imagery and the voice-over by Anna Holmes talk about what society still expects from a woman in this day and age shows we still have a long way to go in women’s rights.
The show at the Riley Theatre on 27 January was the last show scheduled in their tour, however more tour dates are set to be announced throughout 2024.