REVIEW: You Will Fail Her at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

Immersive theatre isn't something that I know an awful lot about. I knew what it meant, but not until walking into the room did I understand it.

Friday, 22nd September 2017, 10:08 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 11:48 am
You Will Fail Her being workshopped by DYSPLA

Being used to more traditional play formats, it came as a welcome surprise to experience what New Theatre Royal and DYSPLA (the arts organisation dyslexic and neurodivergent storymakers) put on as an immersive theatre installation. No seats, no aisles, no popping out during the interval for a second beer, just a studio filled with 8ft balloons with a kaleidoscope of projections sprawled across them, bounding around the room.

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Joined by 15 or so equally bewildered audience members, we were encouraged to explore the imaginative climate set out before us and to behave as we would any other day.

Powering through the ambient music and relaxed air - Janina Smith (our protagonist) displayed surging energy as she cut from a dyslexic school girl to her scathing teacher and back again, regularly evoking real emotion from audience members (myself included) just as the producers had intended: ‘You will revisit your own childhood and there among your memories, you will relive a trauma so unforgivable that even you will feel the guilt of a system that continues to fail its children.’

You Will Fail Her is a thought-provoking critique of Britain’s education system and how it deals with neurodivergent children. A touching two hours well spent.