The humour and horror of office politics is brought to light by Halifax-born playwright Adam Z Robinson’s debut production Conscientious.
Currently working through a national tour, the play is a thrilling monologue that dips into themes of self-reflection, trauma and the First World War.
Starring Rachel Ashwanden as the central character Rebekah, Conscientious tells the sinister tale of what happens when a friendship goes wrong.
Rebekah recalls how her dream job quickly becomes a nightmare when the office bully Michelle sets Rebekah in her sights.
“She tells the story of something that happened to her in the first place of work,” says Adam.
“During the time she’s telling the story, she turns to her great grandfather’s journal who was a conscientious objector in the First World War.”
Adam says the play is about trying to come to terms with our own morals - about how certain we can be about our values when survival is on the line.
“It’s a piece about whether your ideals win out, or whether when faced with a certain situation you react in a way that you think your beliefs and ideals are,” he says.
“It’s a play which raises a lot of questions but necessarily answer them for you - hopefully it will put the audience in a position where they wonder what they might do when faced with a similar situation to Rebekah.”
The story is told as a one-woman monologue that manages to convey the creepiness of a ghost story and the gripping drama of a thriller.
“Although there’s only one person on the stage, it does feel like a really busy performance - we’re introduced to a lot of characters throughout the story,” says Adam.
“We were very keen that it would be one person telling the story rather than acting out five different roles.
“One of the most interesting things about monologue is that you have this single and you only have their account to trust,” he says.
“There’s a point in the play when Rebekah’s father hands her the journal and says ‘don’t trust everything that you read in there - we’re not always as good as stories we tell about ourselves’.”
The play is directed by Alex Chisholm who spent 12 years working at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, and has staged the performance with an elegant and simple design accompanied by an intricate soundtrack drawing from the wider world.
Adam has spent his life in West Yorkshire, moving from his Norton Tower home to Leeds in 2003 to study at university.
“This region is really exciting for theatre,” says Adam. “There’s so much good stuff happening and so much good stuff coming out of West Yorkshire at moment - there are lots of opportunities for up-and-coming playwrights.”
The roots of Adam’s love of theatre took hold when he was a student at Holy Trinity School, Halifax, (since renamed Trinity Academy).
“I started writing when I was doing my GCSEs. I got into the poetry of people like Simon Armitage and Ted Hughes,” says Adam.
“Recently, at a performance in Leeds, one of my GCSE English teachers was at the show.
“My interest in this whole area of theatre and writing was sparked in those classes by this amazing teacher called Miss Stoker.
“It was really nice to thank her for being such an amazing teacher - she was really modest about it, but I don’t know if I’d be doing what I’m doing if I didn’t have such a great teacher,” he says.
Adam recently went back to his old school to lead some writing workshops, hoping to inspire the next generation of playwrights the way his former teacher did.
“It was really nice to go to Trinity Academy because some my old teachers were still there,” he says. “There were some really talented students in the sessions.”
lThe nearest the play comes to Halifax is on Saturday, December 6, (7.30pm) at Theatre in the Mill, Bradford. Tickets: £8 Full/£6 Concessions/A limited number of student tickets at £3. Call 01274 233200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org