Manchester theatre company Box of Tricks is to tour award-winning playwright Ella Carmen Greenhill’s moving and touchingly funny new play Plastic Figurines which explores autism within a family.
“Mum told me that there was something in his brain that was different, she said that he liked to put his toys in lines and that was a symptom or whatever. I used to go in his room and see all his stuffed animals in a line and I’d mess them up. I’d mess the line-up.”
Rose loves her brother Mikey. Mikey loves Rose, Bruce Willis films and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but he hates change.
When their mum is diagnosed with leukaemia, their world is plunged into chaos. Rose returns home to find a very different brother to when she left.
But today is his eighteenth birthday and Rose wants everything to be perfect – but life with Mikey isn’t ever that simple.
Inspired by events in Greenhill’s life, Plastic Figurines explores autism and the relationship between siblings with very different views of the world.
The production is directed by Box of Tricks’ joint artistic director and co-founder Adam Quayle.
The two-hander will feature Jamie Samuel (Jumpers for Goalposts, Paines Plough, Hull Truck and Watford Palace – winner of Best Actor at Off West End Awards 2014) and Remmie Milner (Melody Loses Her Mojo, Liverpool Playhouse and Curve Leicester).
Ella Carmen Greenhill is a former writer-on-attachment with the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse and a writer-in-residence with Paines Plough.
She is currently developing a play for young people as part of the 2012 Skylines project with Theatre Centre and Manchester Royal Exchange as well as a collaborative project with Unity Theatre in Liverpool.
She said: “Plastic Figurines is, in many ways, a very personal play. It is inspired by my own experiences of autism, sibling relationships and losing my mum.
“At the same time it is a complete work of fiction and, while Rose and Michael are very close to my heart, they are not me and my brother.
“During the research process I spoke to a lot of people about their experiences of being close to someone on the autistic spectrum.
“A great piece I read said: ‘If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism’. I think that’s so true and it really gave me the freedom to show my own experience through the play”.
Director Adam Quayle added: “Ella Carmen Greenhill has proven herself a huge talent and I’m thrilled Box of Tricks is taking her new play, Plastic Figurines, out on tour in the spring.
“The play is a real example of our commitment to the next generation of playwrights. I was drawn to the play as it deals with big themes – grief, guilt, memory, family, autism – through nuanced writing and an acutely-observed sibling relationship at the heart of the piece.
“Plastic Figurines is a beautifully measured, universal piece of writing – by turns funny and moving – that unflinchingly explores what it is to be human.”
Plastic Figurines will open at Liverpool Playhouse Studio on the April 8.
2015 Tour Dates
April 8-11, Liverpool Playhouse Studio
April 14-18, New Diorama, London
April 21, The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead
April 22, The Met, Bury
April 23, Hull Truck
April 24, Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, Halifax
April 25, The Atkinson, Southport
April 28, Whitby Hall, Ellesmere Port
April 29, The Mill at the Pier, Wigan
May 1, The Civic, Barnsley
May 5, Harrogate Studio Theatre
May 6-7, The Lowry, Salford Quays
May 9, Derby Theatre
May 12, Walker Theatre, Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury
May 14-16, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Emlyn Williams Studio, Mold.