Sometimes a person will do anything in order to not have to face reality. They may even go to extremes of self-delusion so that they can avoid that day when their world crumbles and the truth is out there. So it is for the protagonists of Leftovers currently at Theatre N16 in Balham.
The story of Elizabeth (Gabrielle Sheppard ) and Harry (Christopher Adams) begins rather conventionally with Lizzie feeding the ducks while Harry looks on in an amused way. The two of them finally speak and after some mild but very sweet flirting, they arrange to meet the following Saturday, but as they finalise the arrangements a fast jet flies overhead suggesting that the park is not the idyllic place it seems to be. As things move on, we get to see differing accounts of Elizabeth and Harry’s life together. She packs for the honeymoon and he is very excited or she packs for the honeymoon and he tells her he has signed up and is going off to war. She is pregnant or she is not, she has a daughter (Ella Cook) or there is no child and so on. The story is told using, for want of a better word, normal spoken word and through music and what at times can be seen as abstract rhythmic movement and covers all of Elizabeth’s life and fractured world in which she lives.
Leftovers is not a standard play – whatever that means. Writer Gabrielle Sheppard has crafted a very subtle piece of theatre in concocting Elizabeth’s tale. At times, it can be a bit confusing trying to work out what is reality and what is the fantasy world in which Elizabeth hides from the events going on around her, despite the best efforts of her daughter. As you move on, timelines become distorted and confusion sets in. I’m going to be honest and say that it probably wasn’t until the very end that all the pieces fell into place for me. Director Dimitris Chimonas keeps everyone – cast and audience alike – on their toes as he packs an awful lot into the seventy minute running time. The cast work extremely hard to deliver the piece – in fact I was exhausted watching them – which involves a lot of running and movement, and I was very impressed with their ability to keep in sync with each other and not fall or get caught up on the various items of clothing strewn around the stage area. They also interacted well together and this was particularly true of the scene with Elizabeth and her unborn baby which was done really well.
All in all then, Leftovers is a play that makes the audience think. As someone watching, there is no time for any form of complacency to set in as the story in front of you unfolds and you get to analyse what is and isn’t reality. I’m not 100% sure I actually got every aspect and nuance of the production but, nearly twenty-four hours later, it is still with me and I am still thinking about some of its aspects. And any show that can do that has to be an example of good quality theatre.
Review by Terry Eastham
This romantic fairytale transports the immigration crisis on to our front doorstep through physical expression, text and an original score. Nostalgia dresses an exciting journey about love, memories, aging and fate. Collaboratively devised by the company, based on the writings of Gabrielle Sheppard, Leftovers follows the young heroine into her memories and delusions of the life she could have lived, with the family she could have had, only if…
Directed by Dimitris Chimonas with an original design by Sara Blondal, the piece unravels with a strong visuals and physicality to provide heartwarming beauty. The companies are proud to be working with Care4Calais on this project and will be donating a percentage of the profits to help refugees in the Calais camp.
Sunday 5th to Thursday 9th June 2016