Just a Few Words/Stammermouth performed in the Seligman Theatre company in Chapter Arts Centre is one of the most poignant pieces of modern theatre that I have ever seen.
Just a Few Words is a one-man play that gives the audience a real insight into the mind of someone with a stammer. This is a show that tugs of every heartstring and plays with each anD every emotion you have. I think this is mainly due to the excellent choice of actor for this piece who was Nye Russell-Thompson. Russel-Thompson has created an insane amount of likability and authenticity to the character which meant that the audience desperately wanted him to succeed in the task at hand. At one part of the play, there is a ‘musical’ section which was very enjoyable and fun. This added to the surprising amount of comedy that was in play this about a very serious topic.
As this fondness from the audience is developed (due mostly to Russel-Thompso’s portrayal of the character) it makes the sadder sections of the play even more emotional. For example, There is a heart-breaking end to this play that had me (among many other) lost for words and there was a stunned silence for a long time after the play had finished. This end was frustrating at first however I believe the reason for its inclusion was to give a realistic message about life. This play’s main aim is to give a voice to the figurative (a semi-literal) voiceless which is very heartwarming. To see the character struggle to express what he wants to say helps create support from the audience but also brings people with speech disorders. As this show highlights the struggles of living with a stammer it is representing and empowering a group of people who often are ignored in theatre which was incredible to see.
This play fits into, what I like to call, a small theatre genre play. It worked perfectly in the compact theatre of Chapter and I believe that it would not work as well in a big theatre as, at times, feels as if the character is speaking directly to each and every member of the audience which only added to the relatability and likability from the audience. This made the play personal to each person which only exaggerated all the emotions the narrative made you feel.
This show was only an hour-long but when Nye Russell-Thompson was on stage you lose all track of time. He has you hooked every single minute he is there and you forget about time and life outside this theatre. Finally, this was another play that stripped back on all the paraphernalia of theatre and forced the audience attention to solely be on the actor on stage. There were very few movements in the show, the light placement stayed the same throughout the whole duration of the play, there were very few props (excluding the large pile of queue cards to express things when the character could not) and as it was a one-man play there was one actor , and one BSL interpreter on the stage. This made the play even more relatable to the audience but also was a more realistic portrayal of the real-life struggles of having a stammer which shows this play was well-thought-out during its development which shows the talent of its writers. I believe the reason this play fitted so nicely into the small theatre genre of plays is that it was performed in the Edinburgh fringe festival.
In conclusion, Just a Few Words/Stammermouth is an incredible piece of modern theatre that gives a voice to those who are often ignored in theatre and makes the audience feel a vast range of emotions. I hope that this show becomes even more popular and that we will see more of Nye Russell-Thompson in the future. I would rate this production 5 out of 5 stars and I would recommend this play to anyone interested in the power of theatre or anyone interested in the progression of theatre needed for it to become truly accessible to everyone.