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Unlimited 2014 - disability arts online
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Julie McNamara's 'Let Me Stay', another of the shows which has just received Unlimited funding, previews at CoolTan Arts / 4 April 2014

Julie McNamara on stage sitting on a chair within a white circular piece of flooring. She turns to face a large projection of her mum, Shirley, against a backdrop of large cardboard boxes

Julie McNamara on stage in 'Let Me Stay'. Photo © Lesley Willis

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I am delighted that Julie McNamara and her company Vital Xposure have received an Unlimited award for Let Me Stay. I’ve known Julie a long time now – through thick and thin you might say. And I know her well enough to say that she puts everything into whatever she turns her attention to.

Let Me Stay is a treat. I saw Julie perform Let Me Stay in a makeshift theatre space – the sort of space that proves that you can make theatre anywhere, if you are good enough and committed enough to what you’re doing.

Okay, so it probably helped that Julie had loads of mates in the audience; so that when the stage lights stopped suddenly, she was able to improvise, calling out “somebody lend them 50p for the ‘leccy”, slipping into her mums character like a well-worn and much loved frock… or shoe, possibly. Let Me Stay involves lots of shoes.

Julie moves effortlessly between herself, her mum, and a massive cast of do-gooders, ne ‘er do wells and various motley bods.

The tempo is loud, brash and full of warmth and heart as Julie takes us into her mother Shirley’s world, before and after the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Let Me Stay lifts the lid off the taboo of Alzheimer’s and gently, good spiritedly confronts the audience with their fears to lead us into a humane space, undressing the nuts and bolts of being human and finding that when the mind unravels, yes there is darkness and despair, but there is poetry too.

If there was a weakness to the last round of Unlimited it was perhaps that much of the work was too ambitious and therefore too expensive for any but larger venues, like the Southbank Centre. This round will show a larger variety of performance for big and small venues.

Vital Xposure’s Let Me Stay engages with issues that affect people from all walks of life. It's great that the Southbank Centre is taking it, and the kind of family orientated audience you can expect there, will see it, but it has the potential to fit a range of types of theatre space and therefore to be seen by a host of different types of audience.

I’ve just found out that Let Me Stay has been selected for the PULSE festival on Thursday 5th June as well as for the ANXIETY festival running from May through June 2014. 

If you can get to see it, I'd thoroughly recommend it.

Keywords: unlimited