A Heartwarming And Remarkable Triumph: ‘The Little Big Things’ Review



Luke Sheppard’s The Little Big Things is a truly heartwarming feat, depicting the intricacies of teen life, a family dealing with grief, and an excellent soundtrack by Nick Butcher, which will leave the entire audience in joyful tears and humming the tunes as they exit @sohoplace theatre.

The story depicts the life of Henry Fraser, a promising, young rugby player who suffers a freak accident on holiday with his brothers which leaves him paralyzed from the neck down, and must deal with the reality of having to adapt and change to his new life.

The staging is fairly minimal, except for a large platform which rises and falls in the centre of the stage, giving the performance a physical heartbeat that moves along with the story. This helped give full attention to the diverse cast of able-bodied and disabled actors, who captivate each and every audience member with their expressive, complex characters and fantastic performances.

Jonny Amies and Ed Larkin play Henry, Amies as the rugby player before the incident and Larkin post incident, and both do an incredible job of showing the inner turmoil of getting your head around a life changing incident, accepting help from those around you, and navigating life as a teenager. Even for the majority of the audience who will have no understanding of what life is like to be paralysed from the neck down, the truly believable performances of Amies and Larkin make it easy to feel and understand the turmoil Henry is going through.

Henry’s parents are played by Alasdair Harvey and Linzi Hateley, who are truly incredible throughout the entire show, sharing the raw and uncensored pain of two parents accepting that their son’s life will never be the same again. Hateley’s voice in particular is the driving force behind this message, and her performance of ‘One to Seventeen’, where she is told by the doctors the extent of Henry’s injuries left the entire audience sniffling and wiping away tears.

The other major success of the show is the choices made by Sheppard of when to focus on disability and when not to. The main message is Henry realising that disabilities are not always the be all and end of all of a person’s life, and his physio Agnes, a fellow wheelchair-user, played by Amy Trigg, uses her bawdy and unapologetically brazen character to drag Henry out of the dumps. 

One of the most significant things that drives this is the fact that some character’s disabilities are never mentioned. They are not treated any differently and although this may be small, it acts as a nuanced way of suggesting that disabilities are not a necessary a characterizing factor of a person’s identity. 

Henry’s brothers are played by Jordan Benjamin, Jamie Chatterton, and Cleve September who along with Henry perfectly encompass four rowdy brothers, whose closeness and intricacies are tested when one member of the unit is suddenly hurt. Their rendition of ‘Sympathy’, along with their father, is another fantastic number, which again left the audience on the edges of their seat, hearing Henry’s brothers and father finally share their anxieties and fears over this new life they must adapt to.

Henry learns of a new way to express himself through art, with the real life Henry’s painting created using a paintbrush he is able to hold in his mouth, being presented above the stage for the audience to enjoy.

The show is full of strife, anxiety and fear, but more so hope, and the unbreakable bonds created by a family who want nothing more than to support and care for each other, despite how hard that may be. It is no wonder that @sohoplace has decided to extend the show’s run. The Little Big Things has a huge personality, incredible soundtrack, and hopeful message that is truly magical, and one that is hard to tear your eyes, ears and heart away from.

The Little Big Things is running at @sohoplace theatre until 2 March 2024.

Words by Panayiota Demosthenous

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