I have three online reviews for Punching The Sky (links below), which is great and – whilst I don’t agree with some of the points made – this is their own experience of the show and therefore, something to think about. I have asked for and welcomed feedback for this very personal piece of theatre – from my nearest and dearest, from the press, the media, the wider public, the inevitable trolls and even the tunnel-visioned, misquoting, king-of-out-of-context-rants religious zealot Ray Comfort.
The reviews have been written by men, so, in the spirit of balance, I have asked for some reviews from women who have been to see the show in the various Northern Venues.
Here are their words:
Helena Law (Co-ordinator for a team of architects): Lowry Theatre.
Punching the Sky struck me for several reasons. I am not a mother and I honestly didn’t expect this piece to resonate with me as strongly as it did, at different points I laughed, cried and was angry. From the moment Lizi Patch said ‘fuck’ when faced with being left with her baby in her living room; I was hooked by a narrative which was more real, honest and unafraid to present flaws than I have previously seen. We were presented with a Mother who would die for her children, who recounted every tiny detail of childhood scenes with such care and who was also devastated that Coldplay had become her son’s ‘song’!
By taking the time to build up childhood stories and Lizi Patch’s character I found myself dreading more and more the point where we heard about the catalyst for this play. The visuals, sound bites and at times caring, at times quite fierce interactions between the three actors built up to what was a beautiful and heartbreaking retelling of Lizi’s son’s experience online.
Yes, we didn’t get to see the clip, yes we didn’t hear an all out explicit argument for or against porn and yes – we didn’t hear how her son was in the months that followed. I have to admit at times I wanted to know if there was a happy ending but I think the piece was much more powerful in its avoidance of this. Later in the evening, I was typing a message to my friend on Facebook and I paused. I thought about all the anecdotes, jokes and clips throughout Punching the Sky that had almost imperceptibly presented me with a spiders web of opinions, ideas and emotions and that’s when I realised just how clever this piece is.
Emma Gordon (Lecturer, Leeds Grammar School): The Carriageworks, Leeds
Lizi Patch tells a brave and personal tale of a mother’s fear when her little one’s innocence is threatened. She talks from the heart, with humour, spirit and imagination. As a parent, a teacher, an aunt, uncle, sibling, human, we can all relate to elements of the struggle to sift the cyber rot from the virtual insanity (and our own) when faced with a controversial issue and the hurt of someone we love.
Compassionate, insightful, innovative and engaging, I could listen to Lizi tell stories all day!
Kym Kitching (development and alumni relations team at University of York.): The Carriageworks, Leeds
As a young woman who hopes to one day be a mother Punching the Sky rocked me to my core. Tackling such a sensetive subject the performance was brave, honest and brutally real. Lizi came across as a passionate parent trying desperately to make sense of how to raise a child in an increasingly ‘accessible’ world.
Judith Kahn (Writer): Square Chapel, Halifax.
Lizi Patch has written a very powerful and personal play about parenting today. It is autobiographical, and there is real power in this telling of a true story.
Punching the Sky asks questions about being a parent today, in the age of internet penetration of all our lives. The challenges of how to deal with bullying and the presence and accessibility of pornography are entwined in the play.
The delivery of the story has a light and deft touch which keeps the audience hooked.
It is an intensification of the age old questions
How can I parent my son?
How do I cope with my child’s experiences away from me?
How much can I/ should I protect my child?
And a more modern one :
Why does a woman asking questions provoke such misogynistic responses on the internet?
The play asks us to listen to our children, believe what they tell you, help young people cope with the difficult world out there. The play also makes it clear that there are no blueprints out there about how to get it right and that being a parent has lifelong consequences!
The technological and modern message for adults and children alike is that ease of access to the wider world causes us to be at greater risk.
The simple but clever staging and projection of images creates an intimate flexible arena, and the three actors play off each other with ease and grace – despite the fact I saw the first night, in a theatre they were only playing for one night.
Punching the Sky provides a great jumping off point for discussion, it asks important questions. It has no answers, but suggests we should keep on talking.
Sophie Suttle-Marshall (Year 11 Student)