Will Eno’s play looks into the lives of 8 people, telling 5 different stories with each of the five scenes feeling like small extracts from five bigger plays.
The set is a white box that we are looking into, and what looks like some sort of artists’ studio and an office, with a small stage full of a mismatch of different things. In the middle of the stage is an imposing white platform, like a photographers screen. This fills the majority of the small stage at the Tabard and sometimes can feel too big, although only during the transitions between scenes. It seemed as though the cast were slightly stumbling over it as they entered the space.
Seven characters enter the room and begin talking over each other. We hear from a football coach talking at a press conference. Jonathan Kemp played this well, however I feel as though more comedy could be brought from this monologue. This scene slightly sets a false mood for the rest of the play. However, Kemp is a very imposing figure in this small space and delivered a very bold and straightforward performance.
Following the coach we see two people trying to ‘find a relationship’. Although at times it can feel like a conversation between each other, it is clear that they are each in their own personal space. Esmé Patey-Ford and Joseph Stevenson have a clear strong and emotional connection between each other and are both natural comics while still remaining sincere. This is certainly a highlight of the play.
The third is another monologue, and a very solid performance from Claire Lichie as a spokeswoman for an airline. This scene had many comic moments and was stunning.
Then enter a photographer and his assistant. The whole mood of the play changes as we, the audience are suddenly involved in the play as they are trying to take a photograph of us. Rebecca Herod gave a very engaging performance as the assistant and Philip Nightingale’s flashback to fighting in a war was gripping.
The final scene is set in what appears to be a car made of two chairs. However in a moment of pure comedy, this turns out to literally be, two chairs. I felt as though this was the weakest of the five scenes, however it was still brilliant. Kaye Brown and Keith Hill both gave comical and heartfelt performances.
Between each of the scenes, a ninth character, (Guy Warren-Thomas) labelled as the Artist, seems to command the other eight characters and then chooses who tells their story. He acts almost as a puppeteer. This wasn’t quite clear until near the end of the play. However, during the last scene he suddenly becomes involved in the two characters’ story. This is a very odd moment but because of the way it is staged, strangely works.
With a cast of nine, the strength and quality of the acting stands out in this production. It’s quite extraordinary.
Review by Elliott Wallis
Oh, the Humanity and Other Good Intentions
Cast: Kaye Brown – Wife, Rebecca Herod – Assistant, Keith Hill – Husband, Jonathan Kemp – Coach, Claire Lichie – Spokeswoman, Philip Nightingale – Photographer, Esmé Patey-Ford – Woman, Joseph Stevenson – Man, Guy Warren-Thomas – Artist
Creative Team: Andy Edwards Designer, Will Eno Playwright, Janis Jaffa Casting Consultant, Patrick Jensen Stage Manager, Paul Lichtenstern Director, Rosie Thomas Deputy Stage Manager, Phoebe Wagner Assistant Director.
3rd to 20th September 2014
Evenings: Tuesday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinee: Saturday matinees 4pm (13th, 20th Sep)
Tickets: £16, £14 Concessions
Groups: 8 tickets for £100
Box office: 020 8995 6035
Friday 5th September 2014