It's hard to think of more polarising topics than domestic abuse or drug addiction, yet Waxing Lyrical Production's play Hannah at Noel Lothian Hall in the Botanic Gardens provides a nuanced and considered take on these controversial issues. The play, written by Liam Ormsby and directed by Ormsby and Toby Rice, is an intricately crafted clockwork of staging, movement, dialogue and score that explores the cycles of abuse and addiction as they affect ourselves and those we love.
The Noel Lothian has seen smart renovations since last season to better prepare it for dramatic performances, with a fetching metallic grid suspended from the roof for stage lights, and the production made full use of these new facilities. The audience's seats are spread out in a square, with the meat of the play taking place in the centre, but those players not directly participating in dramatic scenes walk solemnly behind the audience, or stand at cardinal points, which subconsciously reinforces the reflectively cyclical structure of the narrative.
The play revolves around the eponymous Hannah (Krystal Brock), a personal trainer who's encouraging the recalcitrant Lily (Temeka Lawlor) in her efforts to address her mental illness. Hannah runs into an affable old flame, Noel (Kieran McNamara) who both hold conflicting feelings about each other despite a catastrophic breakup. Hannah is, however, currently seeing the volatile Leon (Elliot Howard), who is to some degree a violent catalyst for the play's narrative.
And that's about as much as I should give away about the story behind Hannah, as audiences will want to experience the jaw-droppingly brilliant climax of the show without any filters. I can, however, commend the cast on their faultless and at times harrowing performances, compliment the stark lighting design and score, and congratulate Ormsby and Rice on producing a confronting yet approachable study of the human condition and the traumatic scars we carry – both seen and unseen.
Hannah is almost less a play than it is a well-oiled dramatic mechanism of various parts; each initially with their separate role, but that ultimately interlock to form a machine of greater function and meaning. Which is even more remarkable in a play with such humanity and even vulnerability.
The playbill for the show says, "Some people are too good to be true."
I would add, "Some plays are too good to be missed."