by Alice Brace
Raizing Eddie is the new gritty drama by Philip Stokes. It tells the tale of Eddie’s return from serving a 4 year prison sentence after being falsely accused of stabbing his former best friend. Eddie returns to find his ex-girlfriend, Shanie, has settled in with a wealthy, no-show, with a “telly big enough to sleep on”. Insistent that Shanie has turned into “Chelsea scum”, Eddie attempts to win her back by staying on the sofa of her new boyfriend’s house and re-integrating himself into her life. Using a series of football analogies, Raizing Eddie examines the inner-workings of football hooliganism, social class, and prejudice.
As the story unfolds, Shanie and Eddie are haunted by physical embodiments of their guilt: ghosts in the form of Billy, Eddie’s best friend whom he was accused of stabbing, and the daughter that Shanie never had, having aborted her at a young age. After accepting their ghosts as parts of their lives and beginning to learn to live with them, Billy’s sister turns up out-of-the-blue to try and unravel what really happened the night that Billy died.
Words really cannot do justice to not only Stokes’ script, but the cast who portrayed it. The young actors and actresses clearly poured their hearts and souls into their roles, which came across beautifully on stage. The dialogue chosen by Stokes was the right balance of serious and humorous, as if he’d just transcribed conversations he’d overheard. There was no point in the performance with a definite punch line, or an uninterrupted monologue – this really made this play special in that it was so true to life. Even the plot twists were realistic and unpredictable, without having that overdramatic soap flare that one might find post-watershed on the terrestrial channels.
To put more pressure on the performers there were no set changes, just the living room of Shanie’s new house, eerily lit by a mock-fireplace. The lack of staging allowed the audience and cast alike to become absorbed into the detailed plot as well as the high levels of acting going on onstage. To show time lapses or indeed a new character entering the play, sounds of football commentaries-gone-by were played through the speakers. As the play developed and the tensions grew, so did the action taking place in the commentaries which gained excitement and momentum as the play came to its climax.
Raizing Eddie was an astonishing and unexpected performance, which didn’t leave a dry eye in the house. Even the cast were in tears as they took their final bow which goes to show how moving the theatre can be. The entire cast and crew are ones to watch for the future, they were an absolute gem to find amidst the busy schedule of the International Youth Arts Festival.