Theatre review - Plastic Figurines, – Playhouse Studio, Liverpool

Plastic Figurines

Plastic Figurines - Credit: Archant

“Plastic Figurines” by Box of Tricks – Playhouse Studio, Liverpool – Thursday 9th October 2015

“Has mum been getting into trouble in here? I heard them saying she was fighting. They said she was a fighter.”

Michael has just turned eighteen. He lives with his sister, Rose. Their mum is in hospital, so Rose has to look after her brother. Michael is autistic.

The backdrop of Box of Tricks new Production is sentimental to writer Ella Carmen Greenhill as it is based on her own experiences. It tells the story of two siblings thrown back together to deal with life and death, to grieve and to understand each other in their own particular way.

Rose has returned to Liverpool from Edinburgh to look after her brother after their mother is taken ill in hospital. Michael has just turned eighteen and Rose wants the occasion to be just as special as any other. But normality is a rarity in Roses’ life as her brother is on the autistic spectrum and she soon finds she is struggling to look after Michael and deal with her mother’s illness at the same time.

Writer Ella Carmen Greenhill’s superb script and witty dialogue offer a blend of humour and occasional tragedy based on a story that is close to her heart. The experiences of Rose and Michael were based on Ella’s own upbringing with her brother who is also on the autistic spectrum and her experience of dealing with the grief after her mum passed away. Her wonderful talent lies in her ability to offer two very opposite styles to a story, but interwoven with such expertise that the audience can do nothing but laugh and then sympathise with the characters. Her creativity is evident throughout the script heavily laden with many peculiar, but comical conversations the pair have which is testament to her skill as a writer.

Director Adam Quayle worked closely with Ella on the project and the understanding is evident in a superbly directed piece crafted and entwined with comfortable grace that the reality of not only the story, but the performances added sublime realism to the piece. Aided with wonderful segments of beautiful music from composer Chris Hope, the action skips between different scenes partitioned by Rose holding conversations with her mother, the stress and pressure of her new responsibility clearly obvious in her emotions.

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Casting director, Peter Hunt, has struck gold with the phenomenally talented duo chosen to portray the roles of Rose and Michael. Remmie Milner displays a magnitude of talents in a variety of different guises from a subtle ambience and control to the real emotion that Rose endures in often heart wrenching performances. Jamie Samuel was simply superb as Michael in one of the best theatrical performances I have witnessed truly bringing the character of Michael out in a sometimes disturbing depiction of how autism can not only affect the person, but those around him.

The content of the story from Ella’s creative and hilariously funny script have laid the foundations for a superb story. With faultless direction and performances of such a high level, the combination of all aspects have really given the play the presentation it truly deserves and I am in no doubt that the superlatives will keep coming with each and every show.

For more information on Box of Tricks and to see a list of performance dates please visit their website at

Playwright Ella Carmen Greenhill discusses her new play Plastic Figurines