Play review by Julia Pattison: Imperfect at The Studio, York Theatre Royal

Play: Imperfect

Actors Mark Hindman-Smith, Helen Lewis and Director Samantha Hindman and playwright Sonia Do Lorenzo during the QandA session after Imperfect.
Actors Mark Hindman-Smith, Helen Lewis and Director Samantha Hindman and playwright Sonia Do Lorenzo during the QandA session after Imperfect.

Venue: The Studio, York Theatre Royal

Review by Julia Pattison

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York Theatre Royal and York St John University have joined forces for a short TakeOver festival on the theme of ‘The Unspoken’.

I went along to see Sonia Di Lorenzo’s play Imperfect, “a true and powerful story about the aftermath of abuse, the misconceptions of others, and the road to recovery.”

If playwright Sonia had been apprehensive about how her play would be received, her fears were swept away by the support of a near full to capacity audience in The Studio.

At just over 30 minutes, this was a work-in-progress piece, followed immediately by a QandA session held by actors Mark Hindman-Smith and Helen Lewis, Director Samantha Hindman and playwright Sonia Di Lorenzo.

For such a hard hitting subject (pun intended), brief was best, and was most effective; you were drawn in right from the start, with Mark Smith’s voice as Him, being all the more chilling in his physical and mental abuse towards Her (sensitively portrayed by Helen Lewis) by being presented as a disembodied voice in Her head rather than seeing Him.

Some great directing from Samantha Hindman who had obviously worked very closely with her cast and writer Sonia.

Imperfect certainly didn’t make for easy watching, but throughout there was a message that victims of physical and mental abuse could escape from what seemed like a hopeless situation with the help of caring, patient friends and family picking up signs that all was not well, despite protestations that all was “fine“.

There but for fortune go any one of us; a friend in need is a friend indeed, especially one who is always there to support, pick up the pieces, and hopefully be rewarded when the Abused doesn’t just leave, but escapes the clutches of the Abuser.

There was so much respect, love and support from the audience as the QandA got underway, and a brave decision of playwright Sonia to share something so deeply personal.

She said the writing was cathartic, and from the audience’s point of view, a valuable insight into how scheming and manipulative these abusers can be.

A chilling and fascinating fact raised was that abusers are horrendous for 80% of the time, and spend the other 20% putting on a performance for others.

Sonia hopes to take her play on tour, adding no more than 15 minutes to the piece, and sharing the message of hope that there is a path to recovery despite all the odds against.

All credit to York Theatre Royal for giving this debut piece a platform. This is a story that needs to be told.