All The Little Lights at the Tristan Bates


Photo credit: Dave Buttle


I feel genuinely humbled to have been invited to watch and review the extraordinary ‘All The Little Lights’ at the Tristan Bates last night. A tough subject matter is brought to life with sensitivity and humour, but without diluting the visceral power of the play.

Jane Upton’s play is beautifully written, perfectly fusing the themes of childhood innocence and playfulness with the trauma and warped maturity of sexually exploited children. If you can’t make it to the Tristan Bates before the run ends on 17th August, the playtext is available via Nick Hern books. After I finish writing this review I’m going online to buy a copy, so I can wriggle under the skin of this astonishing play.

The cast of 3 are universally mesmerising. Lucy Mabbitt is intimidating, fierce and heartbreaking as the damaged Joanne. Erin Mullen’s Lisa fluctuates between fearful and cautiously playful with an authentic and (you soon realise) understandable anxiety. While Amy, played with a glorious innocence by Emily Fairn, brings a comic naivety to this pitch perfect production. It is Amy’s very innocence that fuels my sense of dread as the story of the play unfolds.

The set design, lighting and sound work together in perfect harmony to bring the story to magnificent life. Nothing is superfluous, there is a sharp clarity of focus that convincingly transforms a relatively bare, small stage into a haphazard camp site and train tracks.

Hannah Calascione’s direction is a masterclass in restraint, intelligence and empathy.

As you might be able to tell I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed by the brilliance of this production. I can still feel the emotional aftermath of the show working its way through my body.  I love it when theatre makes me feel this way, as if I’ve been changed at a cellular level.

‘All The Little Lights’ is a must see for all those with a passion for theatre, those creating theatre, or those who simply want to see what the fuss is about when it comes to theatre.



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