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Flash Festival 2017: Erased by Afterlight Theatre at Hazelrigg House, Northampton

My second show of the 2017 Flash Festival was Afterlight Theatre's near future based Erased. The year is 2020 and a Priory-esque institution is with the help of a "dot" removing unsavoury memories from its inmates.

Helena Fenton
Following a high energy physical routine, all bouncing action and repeated movements, we are introduced to the trio of patients, they are a young girl played by Helena Fenton, the dull, matter of fact one played by Joseph Callaghan, and the self-assured one by Luke Mortimore. Of these three patients, Lukes is by far the most interesting, cocky and verbally bold, with a badge of honour of attendance on his arm. He is so much more than the other characters that it can be tricky to relate or enjoy the others despite confident performances from the pair.

Luke Mortimore
Before this introduction, an opening corporate video has already introduced us to the set-up of this establishment and it allows a nicely comical creation to be born by Helena Fenton. She creates some good laughs, more especially from the student audience, with exaggerated glances to the camera in a nicely shot video. This character reoccurs in the same form for a TV show piece, and perhaps as it turns out, better suited for this role. Therefore it did at this point feel a little lazy that perhaps another character was not created for the opening advert piece, Helena is for me among the strongest in this year group with the ability to create strong characters, that I did feel a little cheated that more wasn't made of this chance.

Joseph Callaghan
There was also a moment during the TV show scene where Helena fluffed her lines and rather than recovering promptly as perhaps you might expect, the show sort of stopped with her comment that "it's OK, we're not getting marked". The response was a round of applause from the knowing student crowd (I believe there were just three of us non-students at that performance), and having followed these groups for four years, I got it and wasn't too perturbed by the situation. However there were paying members of the audience there, so technically, professionality as all times would probably be the best. It really was a great moment though.

Erased however is an interesting concept that while never poorly performed doesn't make as much of the idea as you feel it could. There is a nice balance between drama and comedy, and the TV show is the highlight with Callaghan and Mortimore great value as the female contestants. However for all its humour, and it is unquestionably funny at times, it is for the best part quite cheap and obvious material rather than clever. Likewise, the drama is generally uninteresting and often fails to stimulate like you feel it should.

Sadly not one of the best Flash shows for me, but seriously a long way from the worst and certainly not one I want a dot to erase if only to keep the memory of that bewigged character that Helena brings to life in my memory.

Performance viewed: Monday 22nd May 2017

The Flash Festival 2017 runs between Monday 22nd and Saturday 27th May 2017 at three venues across the town. Tickets can be found at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/flash-theatre-festival-2017-tickets-34315017140, with details at https://www.facebook.com/FlashFest2017

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