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Greater London
posted/updated: 17 Oct 2019 -
By Kate Barton. Produced by Digital Drama in association with Park Theatre
society/company: Park Theatre (professional) (directory)
performance date: 16 Oct 2019
venue: Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP
reviewer/s: Samantha Cartwright (Sardines review)

Photo: Manuel Harlan


Based on a true story from the 19th Century, Dr. Linda Hazzard opens her clinic up to the public in a secluded area in America. She claims to be able to cure disease with a fasting programme. We are following the journey of two sisters who have decided to explore the notion of pure health and wellness being a possibility after having visited Dr. Hazzard’s sanatorium. The sisters agree to the programme rather naively. The press on the other hand constantly go back and forth questioning her procedures and demanding answers, but she has friends in high places and for a long time is allowed to continue without consequence. We are witness to the devastating results of the fasting cure, whilst also delving into the complex mind of Dr. Hazzard.

The scene is set and there's a chill in the air. Emily Bestow’s set design is interlocked so, whilst it never changes as such, a drawer-type table pulls out at various points creating a whole new room or area; it's very simple yet very effective. The atmosphere of the space is created brilliantly with lighting- Ben Bull, which includes many projections, allowing the outside world in, this helps tell the story with visuals.

As Linda Hazzard, Caroline Lawrie offers a complex character, we see her stern side and her more caring maternal attributes throughout but I almost want to know more. I feel with such a history the script could have delved deeper into Dr. Hazzard. Lawrie portrays the character extremely well and I feel intimidated and afraid in the best possible way. As sisters, Dora and Claire Williamson, Natasha Cowley & Jordan Stevens are both a delight to watch; perfectly cast, totally believable and likeable. Horace Cayton Jnr (Daniel Norford) is the reporter who won't give up trying to reveal the truth, his presence on stage brings a slight break in the tension so is welcomed.

The play is a psychological thriller and I felt scared and excited throughout. it's played out in such a way that allows you to feel part of it, its feels like I have transported back in time. I also draw comparisons to modern-day life where people strive for perfection, trying any new-fad to be healthier or better in some way. I was totally pulled into the atmospheric action. The only downside, as mentioned, is that I would have liked to have gone deeper, to know more… but I understand such productions have a time constraint.

Photo: Manuel Harlan

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