Lean dress rehearsal

Michael has stopped eating. Tessa, who used to be married to Michael, returns to support him. In desperation she commits to eating only what he eats. Lean is a play written by Isley Lynn and it is playing 20-24 January in Corpus Playroom. Featuring Gabriel Cagan (as Michael) and Rose Reade (as Tessa). The play is directed by Robbie Taylor Hunt and is set in the living room of Michael’s apartment. For those who want to read a bit about the backstory of the play there is an article in Varsity with an interview of the author (linked at the end of the blog post).

I met up with the cast and crew on Sunday evening to photograph their dress rehearsal. Here is a selection of my photos from that day.

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Tessa arrives at Michael’s place. Normally I try and have the person or object in the foreground sharp, as a big blurry mass can be distracting, but here I am breaking that rule by instead focusing on Rose in the background. By the way Gabriel is standing you can infer his state of mind from just the outline.
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I had to look hard to find a reflective surface in this play, but there was a microwave oven sitting there waiting for me. Here I asked Rose to pose for the shot. I had to brighten the shadows a lot to get her reflection this visible.
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Bored. Rose’s expression makes this photo. All I needed to do was capture the moment and make sure she was in focus. The scene was not too brightly lit, so I was shooting at 1/80 second, f/1.4 and ISO 800. This photo had a lot of motion blur as I was not holding the camera perfectly still, but thanks to the new shake-reduction feature in Photoshop I was able to undo the shake by clever mathematics. It estimates how I moved the camera, and then deconvolves the image with that blur kernel. It is pretty amazing what we can do nowadays.
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Tessa smokes, but Michael does not. He wants to start, as it dampens the hunger. I am trying to pick photos that tell a story all by themselves, freezing a moment in the play.
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Michael is told to stare at the pizza, so he does. I like that the lines in the table lead in towards his face. This photo was also quite blurry, but my friend the shake-reduction filter in Photoshop helped me.
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Michael has eaten parts of a sandwich while Tessa was out. She is about to enjoy her four bites.
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Tessa is pretending to cook with thin air. The lack of food is getting to them both.
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In this photo Michael measures the thickness of his arm and talks about how thin it will get. The spotlights cast a strong shadow that showed him from the side. This is one of my favourite photos from the rehearsal, and somehow it captures him and his inner twisted darkness.
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After taking the previous shadow-photo I started seeing the shadows all over the place. Here is another one. To me the shadows are almost like two other people reflecting her state of mind.
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Forcing the food down, little by little. Not an easy task. The light from the spotlight is reflected in the spoon onto his face.
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A moment of peace in the apartment.

I have picked a few more photos from the last part of the play to also post on the blog, but I will wait until the weekend to post them to avoid giving away the ending. So if you want to see them, check back on Monday.

Update… here are the remaining photos.

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Tessa has just found out that Michael lied about eating that sandwich, a major shouting match ensues.
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Laxative pills.
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The fight and force feeding scene is very powerful.

hjorthmedh-lean-rose-reade-gabriel-cagan-upset hjorthmedh-lean-rose-reade-gabriel-cagan-fighting-2 hjorthmedh-lean-rose-reade-gabriel-cagan-fighting-3hjorthmedh-lean-rose-reade-gabriel-cagan-not-fighting

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There are a couple of very tender scenes. I like this moment, and also similarly an earlier scene where Michael takes Tessa’s hand across the table.

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The Varsity review gave it 4/5, they also have a special feature with Isley Lynn, the author of the play. The Tab has changed its review system and the reviewer gave it 78/100. Lastly, The Cambridge Student review gave the play 9/10. You can get tickets for Lean here.

– Johannes

Cast
Michael – Gabriel Cagan
Tessa – Rose Reade

Production Team
Director – Robbie Taylor Hunt
Associate Director – Laura Waldren
Assistant Director – Bea Svistunenko
Producer – Gabriel Agranoff
Stage Manager – Ted Loveday
Publicity Designer – Atri Banerjee
Master Carpenter – Lydia Clark, Jack Swanborough
Assistant Producer – Eleanor Mitchell
Lighting Op – Evangeline Tsui, Isa Bonachera
Op Trainer – Johannes Ruckstuhl
Rigger – Jamie Fenton
Fridge Saviour – Tom Stuchfield
Photographer – Johannes Hjorth

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