Loneliness. It’s an issue that’s becoming more and more common. Especially within big cities and in a world where an online presence can take priority over living in the here-and-now. Rumble Theatre has provided a piece that highlights the struggles of Londoners through brief encounters on the underground and living the ‘hustle and bustle’ lifestyle. Combatting personal isolation and stress through a series of muddled scenes, Rumble Theatre presents to us relatable characters and situations with a brilliant cast and perceptive writing.
The stage is simple – a black box stage with a line of LED lights at the front and three sets of tube seats that reposition every scene. The piece is well-choreographed, effective and with brief changes to accents or costumes, every five-or-so minutes we are introduced to a completely different story. If you have or are living in London, most of these individuals and scenarios are instantly recognisable; from the drunken couple to the busker, to the crying individual who you’re not sure whether or not to comfort. Not to mention the most significant pastime – the ‘sorry’s or ‘excuse me’s we hear throughout the crowded tube settings.
Some scenes are revisited but the play doesn’t seem to have a flow or a particular journey that it’s taking us on – if you don’t get something out of one scene then perhaps the next scene you will? Scenes can stop prematurely and some don’t reach relevance of others. Nevertheless, Sardines still keeps you captivated and the actors are able to bring humour to their tales with as little as an eye-roll or that uncomfortable silence us Londoners know so well.
The play also has a strong philosophical bearing, connecting these characters and their lives to the universe as a whole. “Please make sure you take your belongings with you when you leave this life”. A lot of scenes can be overcomplicated metaphors but one scene where a woman is told to ‘stop overthinking’ makes us think that the play knows exactly what it’s saying and why it’s saying it.
As well as combatting loneliness, the play also talks about what it’s like to be human. A trio of overlapping monologues stands out as three characters talk about their frustrations. As well an eclipsing tube announcement that tries to shed light and hope on our character’s monotonous journeys.
Sardines is a lesson of ‘epic theatre’ in which the audience are meant to leave having learned something and take it away with them. The show succeeds as the audience talk about a variety of different scenes they consider prominent on their way out. Rumble Theatre have created a strong human-interest play about loneliness that will most likely ring relevant for some time.
Revie by Tomm Ingram
You are dancing around in a metal tin that’s moving through space. You’re surrounded by people who are on the same journey. Together, wondering, ‘is this how it’s supposed to be?’
This is a play about the tube. The tube and you. And everyone who’s sitting next to you. It’s a party. It’s a sad song. It’s a universe. Now’s your chance to tap in.
Please mind the closing doors.
If the tube is a metaphor for the way in which we journey through our lives, blindly, robotically, and rushed, there is space for a shift in perspective. The human race is not one to be won. There is no need to push people out the way to get on or off first. Sardines explores to what extent we can replace commuting with community. Ultimately, we’re learning our way around the underground workings of being human. It’s a map we’re all trying to navigate.
CAST: Jonty Weston, Alistair Hall, Aaron Peters, Alexandra Laurence and Riana Duce
Co-Directors: Alice Wordsworth & Erin Blackmore
Writer: Jenna Kamal
Lighting Designer: Ellie Bookham
26th June to 7th July 2018
Drayton Arms Theatre