Review: Essex Have Mercy has Harlow Playhouse audience in tears

Entertainment / Thu 28th Jul 2022 at 10:25am

By Emilia DeFreitas

THE word that first came to my mind when I watched this performance by ‘The SNED-IT Company’ was beautiful. The message of the production and how it was presented was utterly incredible and beautifully moving, bringing myself and many around me to tears. 

The piece explored all the stigmas that surround men’s mental health in a refreshing and engaging way. Film, song, rap and dance were all incorporated to tell the cast’s stories. 

The show began very dark with a short film introduction which delved into the expectations of men to always be strong and to never show any signs of weakness, this was portrayed through skilful dance and wonderfully executed rap. Having toxic masculinity personified was incredibly effective in bringing the idea of the ‘Man Machine’ to life and I enjoyed watching how the ‘villain’ in the show lost power as the other performers became confident in knowing that they are enough. 

Despite the show being carefully scripted and despite it being performed in a large space, the whole production felt so intimate and sometimes I felt almost as if I was the only one being spoken to. Revealing personal stories and experiences to over 200 people seemed effortless to all of the cast. I especially felt this during the ‘check in’ scene where everyone involved discussed how they felt at the time. 

Although men’s mental health was primarily the focus of the production I thought the scene to do with racism was incredibly eye opening to all. Kymani Charles and Marlie James presented their struggles that people of different races or people with a different skin colour would not have to face in a truly touching way; to the strums of a guitar. 

By the end of the production it was clear to see the strong bonds and relationships that had been built between the cast and it was beautiful to see how everyone supported one another. 

I truly wish ‘Essex Have Mercy’ was being performed over multiple nights as I believe it’s something everyone should experience so that they can understand the need to have mercy on others and on themselves. 

As it says in the programme I really did feel it was a show for everyone and undoubtedly the message intended was received by everyone in the theatre. 

Emelia De Freitas. 

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3 Comments for Review: Essex Have Mercy has Harlow Playhouse audience in tears:

Kashka Neri
2022-07-28 12:52:21

I totally agree with Emelia's review. The show was truly heartfelt and emotionally moving. What a tremendous performance! Well done to ALL fantastic cast and ALL that have been involved. I am hopeful that this show will reach other theatres, as Essex Have Mercy should be shown again.

Lucy Whittaker
2022-07-28 18:02:16

The show was absolutely amazing and had me feeling very emotional. The cast were superb and so good to see the latest work of the highly talented Leo Shepherd. Look forward to seeing the next masterpiece

Mike Rees
2022-07-28 20:30:45

Well done Leo and all the cast. Terrific review.

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