By Imogen Howse, Deputy Arts Editor
Wherever The Human Heart Beats is a whirlwind of melancholy, nostalgia and passion. Surprisingly poignant in its final scenes, it’s an impressive production that will touch anyone who has experienced, or is experiencing, a transitional phase of life.
The play follows protagonists Nina, Kate and Ben through their uncertain transition into adulthood and the choices which define both the trajectories of their lives and the longevity of their friendship. Through a series of flashbacks, memories and alternate realities, we follow this tight-knit trio through first crushes, university choices, coming-out, dead-ends jobs and more, gaining an in-depth insight into their complex but loving dynamic. The subsequent dissolution of their relationship is as a result all the more painful, since we as an audience are so acutely aware of what could have been.
It is a production undoubtedly made with a lot of love
The nuance of Emma Rogerson’s writing shines through in her lyrical verse, giving the production a musicality of sorts. This is furthered both by the fitting choice of contemporary music as well as the dance-like movements of the cast. Although at times a little distracting – it perhaps could have been utilised more sparingly – the choreography still cleverly and effectively adds to the impact of the play’s most pivotal moments.
Alma Tavern’s intimate setting is used beautifully by the set design team. A sense of familiarity is created through the use of fairy lights, posters, and most significantly, the gradual unveiling of the map of the trio’s hometown: the involvement from the cast in both the creation and dismantling of the set contributes to the immersive nature of the production.
The chemistry between the three leads – played by Holly Cattle, Alice Buchanan and Charlie Wright – is palpable throughout the performance. Charlie Wright successfully conveys the angst and frustration of cynical Ben, while Alice Buchanan captures the audience’s hearts with her charming and endearing portrayal of Kate. Holly Cattle shines as Nina in the play’s final moments, when the inevitability of the trio’s separation becomes all too clear and the story culminates in a deeply affecting way.
At times, the play does feel a little rushed. A more gradual beginning may have lent itself to an even more climactic ending, while some variations in the production’s pacing may have placed greater emphasis on the story’s most crucial moments. However, on opening night, a more rushed performance can often be expected and so this may well be something that settles across the next few showings.
Nevertheless, what becomes abundantly clear throughout the production is that it is one undoubtedly made with a lot of love: from the handwritten programme on entry to the offerings of jammy dodgers on exit, it’s a unique, homely and moving viewing experience.
Ultimately, Wherever The Human Heart Beats is a play of immense emotional depth which hits home powerfully and bitter-sweetly. It’s an impressive feat and a wonderful testament to the talent and dedication of both cast and crew.
Featured image credit: Wherever The Human Heart Beats production team
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