Rattle Snake @ Live Theatre 06/06/2018 by Kate Millar

Open Clasp’s return of Rattle Snake to Newcastle’s Live Theatre was nothing short of gripping throughout.

The play’s theme, revolving around domestic abuse within two relationships provoked many emotional notes, in a short space of time.

An intense and honest performance from Suzy (Christina Berriman Dawson) and Jen (Eilidh Talman) provided a meandering storyline, outlining the fear, apprehension, anger, low mood, paranoia and utter despair experienced when involved with and exposed to an abusive partner in an intimate relationship. The duality of the performance links two women, involved with the same partner who share their emotional experiences while being exposed to domestic abuse.

Created to aid with the training of frontline officers responding to actual cases of sexual and domestic violence in the community, Rattle Snake informs of the potential scenarios faced, when experiencing such abuse. Scenes are initially based around a dining table, of which introduces the audience to the first date setting, right through to the final scenes of despair and desperation and then eventual realisation.

Suzy, a mother of two, and Jen, also a mother, share their experiences of their relationship with their partner whose character negatively changes and gradually unfolds throughout the play. One scene witnesses Suzy in a boxing ring style environment during a ‘fight’ which is enhanced by boxing style commentary/flashing lights and movement, as though in an actual boxing ring. The dramatic vibe highlights the physical and mental associations linked with abuse and this proved to provide a powerful and thought-provoking experience for the audience to observe throughout the play. During the play both Berriman Dawson and Talman exchange roles, as to represent the male character in the storyline.

Fantastically executed bold language and tone really give the viewer a sense of fear and dismay when watching the abusive characteristics of their partner unfold. Written by Catrina McHugh MBE, Rattle Snake is a heart wrenchingly realistic play, which informs, highlights and educates the viewer of the seriousness and potential characteristics of domestic violence and abuse.

A packed out Live Theatre could feel, understand and acknowledge the tension directed from the two female characters of the play. A sympathetic wave of disgust lapped over the audience as the story eventually reached a climax of sheer terror. A brilliant performance highlighting the unfortunate reality of many relationships in today’s community. Rattle Snake is a vitally important and educational gem of a play connecting with its audience through  impactful writing and powerful acting.