Whether you have lived in London for a week, a year, 10 years or a lifetime, it can be a very lonely city. Over 8 million people live there and yet, as we discover in “The Day After (They Went Off On One)” for a least two of its inhabitants, loneliness is a fact of life.
Only identified as ‘Him’ (Todd James) and ‘Her’ (Ruby Thompson) the two protagonists are both good looking people in their early twenties whose life is lost among the beating rhythm of the City. ‘Him’ is unemployed, living alone and pretty much fed up with his life and the continuing stream of rejections from potential employers. The only bright spot on the horizon for ‘Him’ is celebrating his birthday with friends – and I use that word loosely – in a local pub. ‘Her’ is a northern girl recently moved to London, who lives with her high-flying older sister. London hasn’t exactly turned out the way she wanted. She is the lowest of the low in what sounds like a truly awful office and has the most negative mantras for life I’ve ever heard “I will try but I will fail”. She has no real friends or love in her life and often has negative thoughts about her future.
These two unfortunates meet one night as ‘Him’ having drunk way too much at his birthday party is chundering into “Her” bin. Not the most romantic of encounters but there is an instant spark between them and ‘Her’ invites ‘Him’ in and gives him clean clothes to replace the, shall we say soiled, ones he is currently wearing. The two of them get on very well and almost inevitably end up sleeping together; fulfilling a need they both have to be loved. The next morning there is the usual post one-night stand awkwardness and their separate stories continue, but now in the knowledge that there is someone who, even for one night, wanted them.
Part of the Vault Festival, Miran Hadzic’s “The Day After (They Went Off On One)” is a lovely tale told in free-rhyming verse. Now I have said before that poetry is not my cup of tea but this wonderful production has made me eat my words. Juliet Knight’s production is absolutely brilliant and made fantastic use of the Vault, where the sound of trains going through Waterloo impressively added to the production, as if the city wanted to be a part of its own story. Todd and Ruby were totally believable in their respective roles and any one that is willing to strip down to their underwear in a cold vault in January is obviously really dedicated to their craft. Various scenes really stand out in my mind such as ‘Her’ contemplating, in great detail, her own suicide on the tube and the very moving moment of ‘Him’ going to visit his father the morning after the night before. My particular favourite however was the love-making scene where the two of them conveyed the intensity of the night without needing to resort to graphic displays of action or words. By the end of the show, I really wanted it to continue and know what future ‘Him’ and ‘Her’ would have either together or apart and any show that can have this effect, free-rhyming verse or not, has got to be good.
Review By Terry Eastham
The Day After (They Went Off On One)
“I go underground, stand, look sideways, not moving through this maze fast enough, look sideways again and the beast’s eyes approach, cylinders of light ploughing through the sparseness, a steady collision of metal and darkness.”
‘Him’ is unemployed and looking for romance.
‘Her’ works in a dead-end office job and doesn’t know where she’s heading.
They are lonely twenty-somethings, lost amidst the beating rhythm of the city.
After a chance meeting, they spend the night together. But can they find the connection they are searching for? Is there hope in this briefest of encounters?
A darkly comedic romance, told in a bold fusion of drama and spoken word, written by award-winning young playwright, Miran Hadzic, and directed by Juliet Knight.
The Day After (They Went Off On One) by Miran Hadzic is supported by Old Vic New Voices Lab.
28th January to 1st February 2015
Saturday 31st January 2015