With support from Creative Scotland, The Royal Lyceum Theatre Company and Pitlochry Festival Theatre, in association with Naked Productions and BBC Radio 3, launch Sound Stage, a new audio digital platform, with Mark Ravenhill’s autobiographical play, Angela.
Written during lockdown, Angela is a fantastic example of radio drama, immersing listeners in a very real and relatable world. The fact that playwright Mark Ravenhill has drawn so heavily from his own life makes the story all the more compelling.
Angela is Ravenhill’s 84 year-old mother, now suffering with dementia. This rich and intriguing central character narrates for us as confusion and forgetfulness starts to take hold, but through fragmented memories we learn of a full life lived.
Born Rita, a name she considered too common, Angela perhaps spent her life trying to be someone else, but with a strong sense of family keeping her grounded. Through Angela’s memories we discover more about Mark and his upbringing, but at times Mark becomes a second narrator, filling in the blanks from his first ballet lesson which he joined in his fiftieth year.
Angela is a beautifully written play, and one which allows us to identify with our protagonist almost immediately. There are moments of sadness; beyond the dementia Angela recounts the harsh realities of growing up, miscarriages and the desire to have more than is actually possible.
Pam Ferris is a warm and maternal older Angela, while the feisty younger Angela is played by Matti Houghton. Perhaps the most difficult role sits with Joseph Millson, giving voice to playwright Mark Ravenhill, and Millson succeeds in getting to the very heart of the role. Toby Jones makes some brief, but memorable appearances as Ted, Mark’s father, completing the important vision of a tight family unit so crucial to this play.
Importantly, Angela succeeds in drawing its listeners deep in to the story, this is in the main through the fascinating, if often heart-breaking, story. But John Scott’s sound design plays an important role too, as does director Polly Thomas’ well paced unravelling of Angela’s rich and varied life.
Angela is the first of several Sound Stage productions announced for this year, and it’s a strong start for this latest collaborative platform. A fantastic line up of actors deftly deliver an engrossing piece of audio theatre, that is a fitting tribute not just to the woman who has lent her name to the production, but to mothers everywhere.
Angela is available on Sound Stage from 26th – 28th March 2021. Tickets are on sale here