Francesca Millican-Slater telling stories from the middle of the night:. Picture: Graeme Braidwood
Stories to tell in the middle of the night
Birmingham Rep, Door
FRANCESCA Millican-Slater, a graduate of the inaugural REP Foundry programme, is a writer and performer who tells stories directly to you.
And with Stories to tell in the middle of the night that’s how it feels. There is warmth, intimacy and familiarity to Francesca’s story telling that draws you in as if the story is just for you.
Francesca takes on the role of a late night DJ and her ‘tracks’ (I counted ten stories) take you from dusk until dawn. Each story is engaging in its own right. The stories share themes of loneliness, highlighting our daily surface interactions and over the course of the night become darker in content until, with the final story as we approach the dawn, the protagonists’ desire to keep the world turning leads delightfully to genuine human interaction.
The set (designed by Claire Browne) is made up of three simple wooden boxes which stand at desk height, each with a microphone and each with compartments containing simple but effective props which appear and disappear as Francesca moves the boxes across the space to move us from story to story, returning to the DJ ‘booth’ between stories.
The sound track (sound designer Ian Armstrong) works with Francesca becoming a part of the stories, at times another voice, and also as a backing track. Along with minimal, but effective, lighting (lighting designer Simon Bond), the staging adds to the whole atmosphere working with Francesca to engage the audience and tell each story.
Francesca’s skill as a playwright is as impressive as her skill as a performer. There is a rhythm to the stories and to her voice as she delivers them creating stories that are recognisable, surprising and funny. Next time I can’t sleep I am sure it is Francesca’s engaging stories that will be playing out in my mind from noisy neighbours to pork pies, memories of teen discos and moon face.
Stories to tell in the middle of the night, written and performed by Francesca Millican-Slater runs until 18 February, don’t miss it. To 17-02-17