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Always On My Mind – Living Record Festival | Review

I miss you”, Curtis (Charles Lomas) finally blurts out after sustained questioning from his ex-partner, Stacey (Lucy Syed) who wants to know what is really going on and why this FaceTime conversation is happening. They had drifted apart, and their differences were irreconcilable, but this is the sort of thing yet another national lockdown does: it’s difficult to come up with an excuse as to why a video call can’t take place on any given evening, if there aren’t any cinemas, bowling alleys, bars, restaurants, theatres, gyms or sporting fixtures (and so on) that people would ordinarily feasibly attend in person.
Always On My Mind - Living Record Festival

Stacey has found someone else, or so she says: the characters’ internal monologues, Jack and Jill respectively (also Lomas and Syed), sometimes contradict what Curtis and Stacey are saying, and strictly speaking, it’s not always clear cut who is telling cold, hard facts and who is putting a spin on the truth, however slight. This is, in the end, part of the show’s appeal: there’s a level of intrigue that permeates through the (brief) play.

I can’t get around the play’s brevity: at eighteen minutes it’s shorter than an episode of a soap opera, and yet it is the sort of conversation that would either go on late into the night as both parties probe increasingly deeper to unravel just what went wrong for them, or otherwise a series of successive video calls over a period of time, which would allow both parties to supply more considered responses.

Lockdown restrictions prevented the production reaching its full potential – some flashback scenes would otherwise have had more intimacy (meaning some intimacy in the first place), for instance, but full marks for observing social distancing guidelines. It’s a strong script from Liam Alexandru – one learns to become somewhat unshockable over time when it comes to reviewing shows, but there were a couple of jaw-dropping moments. Alas, it would be too much of a giveaway to elaborate on them.

The conclusion of the production keeps the door open for a sequel (or two, or three, or ten). As the old adage would have it, better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. A bittersweet and relatable show.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Writer: Liam Alexandru
Director: Theodore Gray
Actors: Charles Lomas & Lucy Syed
Living Records Festival 17 January – 22 February
https://www.livingrecord.co.uk/the-living-record-festival
https://www.shipwreckproductions.co.uk/

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