Media Partners | Contributors | Advertise | Contact | Log in | Tuesday 15 June 2021

Theatre Review: Getting Better Slowly @ New Diorama Theatre


Share This Article:

In 2009 Adam Pownall was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome a rare condition that affects the peripheral nerves. Over time it left Adam weak and ultimately paralysed.

Getting Better Slowly stars Adam himself as he retells his story through movement, sound and script. It's an abstract retelling as it showcases his relationship with the illness. Kitty Randle works alongside him, multirolling as members of his family whilst also embodying the GBS that is tourchuring him.

On the surface you would imagine Getting Better Slowly to be an emotional and distressing production - and although it offers us bundles of emotion the real stand-out is that the play is honest. It's funny; you spend more time laughing than crying, and Adam does not demand sympathy but awareness.

He takes us through every stage of the illness, from anger to worry to confusion, but also shares with us the humour that can be found desite the serious subject matter. Kitty and Adam both give us brilliantly comic performances; both actors are thoroughly well-rounded.

Movement is a key part in the production; it's mainly used to show Adams physical struggle and relationship with the GBS. Both actors are stunningly slick, and physically convey aspects of the story which I imagine would be hard to deliver by just words.

As a two-hander, sometimes you can feel that one character overpowers the other - particually when this is Adam's story. However his counterpart is equally as captivating. Kitty seamlessly transitions from character to character, ensuring the story captures not only Adam's emotions but also those of his family. She has wonderful stage presence and both her and Adam demand and hold the audience's attention.

The set is simple; abstract but well used. It allows the actors to change location and time without having to use complex transitions and large set, which is a blessing - the writing, story and actors are good enough without adding more to their surroundings.

Getting Better Slowly is a simple play, but once again The New Diorama theatre is showcasing new and important work. It may not have all the whistles and bells associated with a full-scale West End production, but it offers us a captivating and honest telling of an issue that does need more awareness. More than anything, you leave the theatre feeling thankful and inspired. Not because you've cried and watched somoene struggle, but because you're thankful that actually you can 'wipe your own arse', and because people are resilient.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome affects around 1,200 people annually in the UK. 80% recover, but 5-10% die and the remaining 10-15% experience long term damage. The charity (GAIN) Guillain-Barre & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies exisits to support those effected by the condition. Details of their work can be found at 

Getting Better Slowly played at the New Diorama Theatre. Find out more here.

Articles: 29
Reads: 135565
© 2021 is a website of Studee Limited | 15 The Woolmarket, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 2PR, UK | registered in England No 6842641 VAT # 971692974