Review: CITIZEN (Theatre Royal People’s Company)
By Katie Stote
Love, loss, overcoming addiction and homelessness; these are just some of the hard-hitting stories which are bravely performed by the wonderful cast of CITIZEN.
The city can often feel like an incredibly lonely and isolating place. Amongst waves of anonymous faces, ears blocked with headphones, eyes to the ground and a constant stream of traffic fighting through never-ending roadworks, it’s easy to feel there is no time for human connection, community or personality. Therefore, a production such as CITIZEN could not be more needed or appreciated.
An honest and vulnerable production celebrating community, identity and the scars who make us who we are, CITIZEN is built upon real stories which happened to real people. Those people? It’s very own cast. The unorthodox structure of CITIZEN is the very embodiment of the unique and unexpected journeys taken by each member of the cast, which they courageously share with their audience.
From students to veterans, volunteers to pharmacists, the diverse cast are a representation of the people who make up the community of Plymouth. One member of the cast I even recognised as a barista at the local Costa. This was a simple but powerful reminder, which is at the very heart of CITIZEN, that even the people we see as strangers, the person behind the counter, the faces we walk past in the high street, carry stories and have lived through journeys we could never imagine.
The Theatre Royal People’s Company production opens with a passionate song and throughout the show are real statistics about the people of Plymouth. Some made the audience burst with laughter, others created thoughtful silence. The cast guided us through their stories with grace and creativity, often breaking the barrier between the stage and the audience, creating brilliant moments of laughter and reaffirming the meaningful human connection the production celebrates and encourages.
The free programme each member of the audience is given upon arrival includes a note from the director, Lucy Hirst, within which she says:
‘We knew we wanted to experiment with creating work in a different way, and that we wanted to do so with faces that really lived and breathed our city. We built foundations from authenticity, and called for bravery from the get-go.‘
Well, I can honestly say, and I’m sure anyone who is lucky enough to be in the audience of CITIZEN over the upcoming days will agree, they have achieved and exceeded their goal. CITIZEN is an incredible, uplifting and life-affirming celebration of the beauty that can be discovered in the diversity of our city.
The bravery of the cast, standing before a room of strangers and opening themselves up to vulnerability, each telling their story of what connects them to Plymouth, is beyond inspiring. Most importantly, CITIZEN is a compelling reminder that we are all a part of something bigger. We have all felt alone, happy, loved, anxious, excited and a whole other mix of emotions at some point in this city, just as we have all walked these streets and lived our lives here. To quote the opening song, ‘we are Plymouth’.
The Theatre Royal Plymouth People’s Company are performing CITIZEN in The Drum on Thursday 4th and Saturday 6th July. Find out more about the production here: www.theatreroyal.com/whats-on/2019/citizen