Martínez’s play was performed at The Lantern Theatre, Kemptown, where the stage was set with a small table in the middle of the space, and a projector screen on the back curtain. The actress came on stage, playing the role of HóPe’s first character, Andy.
Andy is plainly dressed, impatiently tapping her phone as she waits for a call. Suddenly, her phone rings and she receives the life-changing news that her mother has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Struggling to receive details from her parents and the doctors, she Googles whether this is bone or blood cancer, before losing herself in a rabbit hole of research. It is all Andy can do to try and control the diagnosis and help her mother – know a little bit more about the illness.
Then, the audience is introduced to the second storyline set in 1817 present-day Colombia, as expressed by La Pola. This character bursts into impressive, passionate speeches of rebellion and revolution in both Spanish and English. Working undercover, she alters and mends for military men while collecting valuable intelligence, revealing the names of key royalists, and recruiting Spanish royalists to join the resistance. The written context projected onto the screen was extremely helpful for establishing this separate story. Meanwhile, the use of sound convinced the audience she was in a home, working for Andrea Ricaurte de Lozano (thanks to pre-recorded speech and sound effects such as doors closing).
Andy’s story is full of sadness, but also resilience as she portrays the rollercoaster experience of coping with a family member facing sickness. I was particularly impressed by the script writing, and how Martínez uses phonecalls and therapy sessions on Skype to tell the story via monologue. This is a commendable writing skill for ensuring details are not dismissed or forgotten when the audience can only hear one side of the conversation. It was all well timed and very easy to engage with, and I couldn’t help myself feeling transfixed by the expressions of confusion and sadness on Andy’s face. I feared what she could hear on the other end of the line with every call.
La Pola’s story is full of fury and pride as she rants about discrimination and injustice. Her resilience comes not from emotional strength like Andy, but from standing up for your beliefs. It is in the final moments of the play where the audience can understand the strength of La Pola living through Andy’s mother and Andy herself. There are some beautiful moments reflecting on the importance of family, as well as the important message to find our own meanings of freedom and healing.
Giullianna Martínez is a London based American-Colombian actress and graduate of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and HóPe for Brighton Fringe is her debut show. The story is inspired by real events as her own mother unfortunately battles with Multiple Myeloma. She wrote, “Originally of Colombian heritage, I was always inspired by La Pola’s role in Colombia’s history and independence. I felt moved to write something that connected these two brave women on their journey to freedom.”
Martinez continues, “This play emphasizes the importance of questioning, researching, bringing a companion, and not blindly accepting healthcare providers’ words as absolute truth if doubts arise. It urges proactive involvement in our health, empowering us to seek understanding and explore all options.”