FADE review – Leeds Playhouse ★★☆☆☆

Photo: Andrew AB Photography

In Alice Christina-Corrigan’s new play, we meet twins Cassie and Rubin as children as they are forced to grow up fending for themselves, their unseen mother unable to meet their needs. Concurrently, we see the pair in 2010 as Cassie returns home following the death of their mother. The younger and older versions of the twins are played by two sets of actors who remain onstage throughout the alternating periods, the action playing out in Cassie’s childhood bedroom.

Created by a disabled-led team, FADE puts accessibility at its heart with captions projected onto the back wall of the stage, and the actors describing their appearance and clothing at the beginning of the play. The run also features touch tours and a British Sign Language-interpreted performance.

However, these accommodations find technical issues, the captions sometimes race ahead or lag behind before rushing to catch up, while also revealing what are presumably deviations from the script. In one scene the word ‘maybe’ is used onstage without appearing in the captions. Its inclusion or absence changing the context of the conversation, while another scene has a passage with two completely different texts.

Photo: Andrew AB Photography

There is disparity, too, between the two sets of actors who are not believably two versions of the same people – the differences between them reflecting how they are played, not the changes within the characters in the intervening years. In the cast, Matthew Devlin creates a real sense of the younger Rubin’s growth, his conflicting feelings and his grief. The older versions of the siblings feel less developed in general but, as the returning Cassie, Daneka Etchells struggles to create more than a sketch of a character.

The play is at its most interesting when Christina-Corrigan blurs the line between time periods as the older versions of Cassie and Rubin interact with their younger siblings. You wonder what more they would say to each other if they had the opportunity. Outside of those moments, though, Hannah Tyrell-Pinder’s production struggles to maintain tension within the narrative; despite the weighty subjects it all feels inconsequential. 

FADE is at Leeds Playhouse until 27 April 2024