Having seen the original production by Kyra Jessica Willis back In 2019, it has been intriguing to see the changes made to this new adaptation of The Feeling, particularly having transferred from a musical, to a play.
Being over 2.5 hours long, there's no doubt that it is a mammoth piece, but packs so much in. Depicting some messy friendships, and difficult relationships, the dark drama focuses on the journey they all take to hold onto what is left. Centred around alcoholism, the character Jessie (played by Kyra herself) depicts a discreet path of destruction that crushes anyone in its way.
The majority of the piece is set in a cafe belonging to Dani (Rachel Clifford), as her friends drift in and out, with a coffee in hand. Here, conversations are captured that twist the narrative at every opportunity. Kasey (Kristian Maylor) is seen to be struggling to comprehend his connections, and his mate Archie (Sean Erwood) turns up to add to the mix too. Jessie is concealing the depths of her addiction when discussing the topic with her partner, Holt (Chris Barton), while Lexie (Pippa Lea) and Edie (Hannah Louise) clutch at secrets that, in the case of the latter, result in manipulation. Dani's growing bond with Jamie (Sharune) is a beautiful display of queerness, that is just there, but not made unnecessarily loud. Through woven love and lies, the cluster of muddled people remain trying to keep themselves together.
Once the characters are established, which does take a little while, due to there being so many lives to follow at once, their development is fascinating, and many elements can be taken to be relatable within a friendship group of adults. The mature themes lead to a breaking point fuelled with emotion, and this does have more impact without a score included, and the actors naturally projecting conversation that bats between them fluidly. However, knowing what the production was like as a musical, it can be said that some songs were missed!
Although there were some sections that were slower than others, they were perhaps inevitable in a show of this length, and almost were required to build the tension of the dramatic turmoil that the characters get themselves into. This rewritten version of The Feeling, directed by Jason Markham, has lots of changes, seems thoughtful, and has an ending that is worth the wait, as the pieces all come to conclude satisfyingly.