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      Exploring the theme of grief through creative means must be a difficult task, given the complexity of the emotions associated with it. This world première at Liverpool Playhouse brings to life the success of Frank McGuinness in tackling the subject through just one voice.

      From the outset of the lengthy monologue the audience feels how suffocating grief can be. The stark figure of Sal, who appears onstage after a period of complete darkness followed by silence, sets an eerie scene within the confines of the intimate Playhouse Studio theatre.

      Leanne Best perfectly embodies the character of Sal and translates her emotional journey powerfully, instinctively and sincerely.
      As the story unfolds (Sal has lost her 12-year-old daughter in a violent tragedy) the protagonist’s emotions unravel. As each layer of the plot is revealed and we watch Sal pursue her opposing instincts towards forgiveness and then revenge, Best conveys the forces working within, exposing the character’s vulnerability and strength with equal measure.

      Expectations surrounding the responses associated with death and grief are highlighted and examined, not least through Sal’s direct questioning of the audience, who become the representation of the norms being challenged.
      Sal’s anecdotes of her earlier life give background that helps create a fully developed character, subtly and intelligently. They also bring to life the other voices who play an integral part in Sal’s story.

      The thread of references to sulphur in various forms; from the continual physical striking of matches to the brimstone dialogue and the association with gunpowder and Sal’s daughter’s violent death, finally culminate in the irony that as the essential element for all life, sulphur juxtaposes what Sal has become. She is bereft and her experience has left her feeling as detached from life as is possible.

      The intensity of the emotional despair conveyed is relieved through humour, intermittently, and Best is as adept at encouraging this as she is anger and other seemingly more negative emotions.

      The Match

      Box provokes the questioning of morality, grief, human instinct, justice, love and hate and Leanne Best’s performance is outstanding. Miss it, miss out! MM