“What the f—k are you doing?” Alex (Jake Felts) almost hollers in the face of a casting director. It’s not exactly clear what’s going on – this show, tastefully, leaves that for members of the audience to decide – but in the light of various revelations about undesirable behaviours, to put it mildly, being expressed towards actors in recent (and, indeed, not so recent) times, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that Alex is torn between standing up for what he believes in and seeking a workable compromise to get the sort of acting roles he’s been craving for.
Okay, so it’s drama about drama, but it will strike a nerve or two (or several) with anyone who follows their heart and their passion and pursues a career of their choice rather than merely the one that brings home the bacon, however insufferable it may be. The narrative follows the trajectory of a couple, still young but a few years out of drama school. The euphoria of successfully booking their first few jobs has dissipated, and while Alex appears to be getting auditions, Bea (Hannah Morrison) admits to working all hours in practically every industry, with one notable exception: entertainment.
Irrespective of a global pandemic and resulting public health restrictions, there are always a certain percentage of actors who would have done little if any professional acting work in the last year or so. That is not necessarily (if at all) a reflection of their acting abilities, and much more a case of supply outstripping demand. So, what is it that keeps so many people pursuing such a relatively difficult career path? This play, brief as it is, doesn’t supply a straightforward answer, perhaps because there isn’t one, exploring instead in some detail myriad thoughts that run through the characters’ minds, whatever they may be.
This does mean the storyline isn’t the easiest to follow, and comes across more like a stream of consciousness than a linear plot with a beginning, middle and end. The borderline breakneck pace of the production is impressively sustained, and does help to maintain interest, if only because one finds oneself adopting a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ approach. It’s not for everyone – some might find it a tad too ‘random’, with talk of people sitting in a coffee shop engaged in conversations or otherwise on laptops in one scene, and the divulgence of the biological mechanisms involved in the process of vomiting in another. But such are the complexities of life, and such are the ways in which the human brain turns to various thoughts whenever one has a spare moment.
The play does well to capture the various emotions the duo face, mostly separately but occasionally collectively. Ultimately, though, there’s a ‘triumph over adversity’ tone to proceedings. There is so much exposition in the script that the video projections, good as they are, frankly don’t add much to the show, providing some abstract moving images or otherwise close-ups of characters in an already intimate theatre space. The script itself goes from ridiculous (“Everything is orange”) to reflective (“I sit in silence unsure of the future”). In the end, however, some passionate performances are highly convincing in this intelligent and intriguing piece of theatre.
Review by Chris Omaweng
A reflective show about the nature of success, the need to tell stories and theatre itself.
“I wonder how I can bear that.
And what it costs you.
I wonder if all these things have happened to you too.”
Two people come apart.
Two opposing stories.
They can’t both be true, right?
The end of a thematic trilogy first begun with Elegy’s ‘Faith & Heresy’, and ‘Holy Land’.
Cast: Bea – Hannah Morrison
Alex – Jake Felts
Addittonal roles: Georgia Richardson.
Director – Matthew Gouldesbrough
13th-17th July 2021 – 2 shows each night at 7pm & 9:30pm
Location: The Old Red Lion Theatre, 418, St. John Street, London, EC1V 4NJ