Review of GASP

Guest post from Judy Riley – Full House trustee and local arts journalist at the Beds on Sunday

GASP drummer

I just wanted to share my thoughts on this show. I went to see GASP in Bedford at 12.30pm on Saturday, July 21 on what was then the hottest day of the year so far.

I took my husband, my sister and her husband along. While my husband knew what kind of experience he would be likely to have, having seen Cirque Fantastique last year, my sister and her husband had only a sketchy idea of what was in store.

Whereas the impressions that I was left with of Cirque Fantastique were of fun, exuberance, positivity and brightness, at this performance of GASP, in the darkened space of The Place theatre, the atmosphere was altogether more focused and profound. Yes, there was fun; yes, there was energy but it was an experience that went much deeper into the souls and deepest feelings of the young performers involved. It was one of the most moving shows I have ever seen – and I’ve seen a few! The actors were given the opportunity to explore their hopes, fears and dreams in a challenging way but it never felt as though they were being patronised or marginalised. The filmed excerpts were incredibly powerful and the drumming exciting and liberating.

Bedford and District Cerebral Palsy Society actors

As for the input of the Full House practitioners I can honestly say that it was amazing. The sensitivity that Ben, Harriet and the other actor/musicians – displayed was exceptional. I will never forget Ben, through his eyes and his spirit, wordlessly encouraging young actors with massive speech problems to articulate their innermost thoughts. Moving soundlessly across the stage, each member of the team guided the Bedford and District Cerebral Palsy Society actors purposely but with utter thoughtfulness through the action. The show was uplifting and wholly enlightening; anyone who saw it will have been touched by something very special.

I am known for being reduced to a soggy pool of tears at the slightest provocation so it comes as no surprise that I was reduced to racking great sobs within minutes of the show starting but Chris had to wipe his eyes at the curtain call, as did my brother-in-law – and my sister got through at least a handy pack of Kleenex too.

GASP was an inspirational show – not only, I’m sure, for those young actors who took part – but also for every member of that audience.

Congratulations Full House: for me, it’s what being involved with the company is all about…