Cassie and the Lights follows the eponymous Cassie (Alex Brain) as she tries to balance normal teenager problems – animation projects and summer schools – with attending to the needs of her sisters, Tin (Michaela Murphy), who knows all things astronomy, and Kit (Emily McGlynn), lover of Party Rings and frogs, after their mum walks out on them. Things quickly spiral out of control, leading them to be placed in the care of two foster parents; although these guardians are well-meaning, Cassie believes that only she is fully able to take care of Tin and Kit, despite the legal and financial barriers in her way.
The relationships between the trio feel touchingly authentic; right from the very start, it’s clear that Cassie feels the weight of her world and her family resting on her shoulders. Murphy and McGlynn, on the other hand, display a childlike vulnerability and openness that endears us to them immediately. The fact that they are completely oblivious to the reality of their situation, as they spill red slushies and wolf down massive ice creams, only serves to emphasise the burden on Cassie. The entire show is set to a live soundtrack by the incredibly talented Imogen Mason, whose synth music somehow transports us to a bowling alley, a busy road, the night sky.
Although the show would still be impactful in a more conventional format – the piece is based on ‘real-life events and interviews with children in care’ – it is the creativity of storytelling which gives Cassie and the Lights such a unique edge. Whether they’re re-enacting particularly heartbreaking scenes using a Mr Potatohead, or using a loop pedal to create their own space-themed soundtrack in real time, Patch of Blue carefully craft a narrative which is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming.