First things first: I cannot resist mentioning that it’s great to sit through an entire play without a single ringtone being heard at all throughout.
Of Nymphs and Men is a little like Marmite, insofar that it is one of those productions to be thoroughly enjoyed, or not. I so happen to fall into the former category but can very much understand and even sympathise with anyone who wishes to disagree. The play consists of a series of monologues, almost confessionals, and some of these are quite long, requiring a tad more concentration than a play with even a little interaction between characters would. For those able to stick with it, though, patience is rewarded, even if the narrative falls victim to being the sort of modern day storyline that progresses at a steady pace only for a sudden critical incident, with a substantial shock factor, to suddenly throw everything out of kilter.
Andrew (Adam Woolley) is certainly very different to Alex (Grace Cheatle), and it was fascinating to observe how the same encounters are perceived so differently by either party. It was almost like going back in time to an episode of ITV’s Blind Date where it slowly but surely becomes apparent that the participants aren’t going to bother seeing each other again.
Each audience member seems to be treated like they are a therapist – there is, I hasten to add, no breaching of the ‘fourth wall’ – or perhaps a sympathetic friend of each character, as they offload both details and feelings of their experiences. The ending was open-ended and far from tidy, which I rather enjoyed, musing as I did on the Tube home as to what may or may not have happened to Andrew and Alex afterwards.
The show would mostly work just as well as a radio play as it does as a theatrical performance – although the odd extended (if deliberately awkward) silence may need to be curtailed if this show did hit the airwaves. That said, the body language used by either character when the other is speaking adds substantially to both plot and character development.
Entirely – and I mean entirely – reliant on storytelling, Woolley and Cheatle take the audience on a journey that never ceases to be intriguing. A reflective piece of theatre, it’s all highly believable, and a very good effort indeed for a debut play.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Of Nymphs and Men
A thoroughly human play about loneliness and desire, Dirty Rascals’ debut production Of Nymphs and Men tells of story of two people struggling to fit their ideas of the “perfect” life with the reality of living.
Alex used to be a dreamer, but her heart’s just been broken and the cracks are running a bit too deep. Andrew used to be a dreamer too, but reality hits back hard and he’s tired of rolling with the punches. When you can’t fight, what’s left but to run?
In a remote wood, two very different paths cross for the first time. As Andrew and Alex help each other to pick up the pieces, they discover a hunger for lives they’ve never led. Slowly, the morning mist rolls in and myths begin to take root in the forest glade…
For our first show, we’ve set ourselves the challenge of “writing” an unscripted piece, relying (almost) solely on the creativity of our actors to devise the content of the story. The performance will take the form of a structured improvisation – our actors will use their in-depth knowledge of the characters to embellish the narrative with detail, colour and life. Each show will be a different journey and we’d like you to join us for the ride.
Of Nymphs and Men
Company: Dirty Rascals
Upstairs, The Miller, 96 Snowfields Road, London Bridge, London, SE1 3SS
11th – 13th January 2016
2:30pm (not 11th), 7:30pm
Running time: 1 hour
Box office: http://nymphs.brownpapertickets.com/