One Under Review: Make A Wish
Updated: Oct 26, 2019
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a guardian angel came sweeping into our lives and offered us three wishes. I wonder what those wishes would be, and if you or I would opt for the obvious or use them to make more of a profound change somewhere. And what if you found out you were fulfilling the last wish of that guardian angel before they moved onto another place. Would you be able to handle the responsibility of being the person they choose to undertake such a momentous task?
From the outset, One Under by Winsome Pinnock, is full of mystery and intrigue. Hurling you smack bang into the last day of Sonny’s life, a young man who, as the narrative unfolds and progresses, has clearly battled some tough demons yet still wants his final act to be one of kindness to another human being that he sees is also hiding pain behind their eyes.
Fragile and broken, Sonny’s story is a timely and sometimes uncomfortable look at mental health and male suicide, which ashamedly is still the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49. Intertwining two different threads from before and after Sonny’s death, we are lead to the moment where he says “Laters”.
Individually each of the five actors deliver strong and moving performances, but it’s the first time that we see mother and son together, played by Shenagh Govan and Reece Pantry, where it becomes impossible not to have an emotional reaction to their intensely personal and intricate portrayal of the two characters. Up to that point, you only glimpse Sonny’s tussle between loveable rogue and a man veering into paranoia and delusion, but it’s this incredibly simple yet moving scene where you as a mere spectator cannot help but have overwhelming empathy for his journey, and where we know it will inevitably end up.
“I wish I had really listened,” is something that stayed with me from very early on in the show as One Under highlights how differently people deal with grief and regret: some frantically search for answers and try piecing together a complicated and mismatched puzzle, whilst others seek to tidy up and sweep away the messiness of existence.
Director, Amit Sharma, has delivered a clear and crisp vision for the show with movement, music and transitions between scenes that are near flawless. It’s apparent that a lot of time and energy has been invested into the portrayal of each character, which is showcased by solid and sometimes emotionally charged performances. None more so than at the moment we first come face to face with Sonny’s very real mental illness. As Reece Pantry’s gaze was fixed onto mine, he literally made me squirm in my seat. It was truly uncomfortable to watch, but I guess that’s exactly the point.