The Secret Collector

Jack lives on an island where the community calls itself idyllic. Not just a community, but a family. But everyone has secrets. Byteback Theatre presents an enthralling production, with a script from Kailey McGowan, co-directed by Rachael Ash and Mary O’Neill.

The piece is visually stunning and the cast do an exceptional job.

Fragments of the story emerge like jigsaw pieces which (through repetition) we put together. Despite being written for a young cast, the script resists over-explaining and the narrative is well structured. This show will appeal to adults and young people alike with its high quality production values and well-polished performances.

The show hinges on Matthew Warren, who is very well cast as Jack, with strong performances from the ensemble and April Wells as Jack’s sister.

There is no set and young actors in grey clothing with red balloons create a sense of place, supported by an ambient and evocative sound design. The use of movement and some choral moments from the ensemble are very effective, although at times the meaning of the choreography was unclear. Despite this, the piece is visually stunning and the cast do an exceptional job.

Balloons are used symbolically. The bursting of a balloon conveys a secret discovered, a secret collected by Jack – and eventually in Jack’s case, a secret laid bare. Balloons are also popped in scenes that demonstrate moments where Jack loses empathy and kindness, or where he behaves cruelly. Was Jack always cruel or did it come from the life-changing moment in his past? And has he changed since, as he sees his secret among the secrets of others?

Many of the secrets of the island are mundane; some are profound. We hear the secrets of a teacher’s hypocrisy, a son’s abuse, a postman relieving his loneliness through letters. But what’s Jack’s secret? I solemnly swear to never tell a soul.

Reviews by Emma Gibson

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Since you’re here…

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You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

‘There are two kinds of secrets. The ones we keep from others and the ones we keep from ourselves’ (Frank Warren). Jack is a collector, but not of antiques, buttons or stamps... Jack is a collector of secrets. Fascinated by people’s happiness, excitement, darkness and shame, Jack begins a journey to unlock strangers' hidden truths and set them free. But what really lies beneath this obsession and how far is he willing to go to make his collection complete? Using beautiful movement and ensemble, Byteback Theatre return to the Fringe to tell this captivating and thrilling story.

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