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Don’t Shoot the Albatross at Canal Cafe Theatre

Alby hates themself, but can’t work out why, and that irks them, even if they don’t quite realise it. In this witty, occasionally unsubtle, but touching confessional monologue, we see Alby reckon with their trauma and self-loathing.

Don’t Shoot the Albatross
Don’t Shoot the Albatross

The spiralling monologue rolls into rhythm with Alby having just hooked up with a socially anxious middle-aged accountant, who is unsettlingly emotionally intrusive. Despite mediocre sex and strange irksome questions from our anxious accountant, Alby feels good. They’re wandering through Soho, they stop and eye up a man standing in a bin, but move on. As they walk, they seem to enjoy hating people, although it is blisteringly clear that this is merely a projection of their burgeoning identity crisis. To make matters more complicated a giant albatross is bothering them, a somewhat clunky metaphor for the reckoning that is bearing down on Alby.

By chance, Alby takes a wrong turn and ends up at the place where all their problems began. I won’t spoil the play, but Alby has been looking for a place to deposit all of their depression and self-hatred. It is in this moment of reckoning that Alby confronts and embraces the Albatross. I’ll say no more, but it is a troubling disruption of who they believe themself to be, and one that resonates deeply.

In spite of its heavy subject matter, it is delightfully funny. Writer Sam Woof gets us on board very quickly, there is warm, witty and likeable. Their performance is engaging, and the relationship they build with the audience gives weight to the revelations that come about. Music accompanies the piece, throughout, all written by Woof and that is a brilliant element of the piece, colouring both their character and the lens through which they see the world. That being said, the rest of the design is a blatant afterthought, leaving a lot to be desired or explored.

The writing of this could do with subtlety, especially in the blending of the narratives. Woof spends a lot of the play charming the audience with their stories, but then occasionally dumps a large dollop of trauma into the narrative. A subtler development and signalling of this underlying subtext might have given it more weight and played with the audience’s level of comfort more effectively. The play is punctuated by some moments of movement, which despite being initially fascinating feel forced and uninteresting as the play goes on. I think they struck on something great early in the play and only included more because of irritating dramaturgical obligations.

That all sounds very critical. I laughed a lot and felt through this story, which I enjoyed, as opposed to a very psychological, wordy telling of a story not unfamiliar to me. The play has a future, requires development but there is something Woof has struck upon, that resonates and toys with the audience’s comfort, and their storytelling through performance is commendable.

3 Star Review

Review by Tom Carter

Blending dance, stand-up and pop music, this explosive monologue follows one person asking impossible questions: why am I like this? Who made sushi so expensive? And, are the straights ok?

Are you interested in forgiving yourself and finding inner peace? No, neither is Alby. Which is why they’ve decided to spend their twenties running from their issues and sleeping with strangers. It’s all going REALLY WELL. Until one night, whilst screwing yet another accountant, Alby stares too deeply into their eyes.

Walking home, strange white birds begin to appear, and as the city unfolds in front of them, so does a secret buried long ago.

Writer & Performer: Sam Woof (they/them)
Director: Lizzie Manwaring (she/her)
https://canalcafetheatre.com/

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