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The Watcher’s Kaleidoscope, The London Theatre

Chris Thorpe
Presented by New Write Productions
★★

Pros: An interesting actor in the central role.

Cons: Full of annoying and unprofessional mistakes from start to finish.

Our Verdict: A dull and occasionally infuriating evening.

Please note that this review was for a preview performance of The Watcher’s Kaleidoscope.

The Watcher’s Kaleidoscope is the story of Paul, an awkward but outwardly sweet young man as he deals with the news that he has cancer. As the story develops we see that he has a few painful issues that need sorting out before he dies. We learn that like a lot of shy people, Paul had a hard time while he was at school. Paul is joined by old school chum Linda and together they paint a picture of how their childhood traumas shaped who they are now. I tend to agree that much of our childhood experiences mould us into who we are as adults but from what I could see nothing in particular happens to either Paul or Linda that is any different from the schoolyard politics nearly every person has to deal with during their formative years. How a bit of youthful meanness ends up in such over-the-top revenge tactics in adulthood is beyond my understanding. I couldn’t help but feel somewhere after the second murder that perhaps the characters should maybe just get over it already.

Ben Williams-Lee brings plenty of interesting nuances to his role and I certainly can’t find fault with his performance. Likewise, Roberta Geremicca who plays Susie is very strong on stage even if her character has little to do. The two leading ladies are pouty, huffy, eyerolly female stereotypes who I could not sympathise with on any level, though one of them is meant to be 18 yrs old so the cross-armed juvenile defiance would make some sense. Some of the violence on stage didn’t work very well either. At one point, one of the girls is dragged behind a couch and bashed over the head but from where I was sitting I could see her lying on the ground while her attacker punched an inanimate object repeatedly. The show felt like a series of endless scene changes with dull bits in between. At several points, the nice chap who sat in the ticket booth greeting the audience at the start of the show appeared on stage as a waiter. This turned out to be the Assistant Director for the show; the poor chap had been drafted in to man the box office because apparently The London Theatre doesn’t provide box office staff.

Now, let me give you a summary of my evening. I arrived at 7.20pm for a 7.30pm show, got my ticket and sat in the bar with the rest of the audience. The show then started somewhere near 8pm. I assumed it must have been my fault for getting the times wrong. I later checked both the theatre website and the ticket issuer – it is advertised as 7.30pm. Nobody at the theatre mentioned anything or made any kind of announcement about a time change or delay. If something had gone wrong like a tech fault or a poorly actor backstage, I would have completely understood. These things happen.

Next, we’re ushered into the theatre, we watch some of the play and then the house lights go up. This is followed by a collective awkwardness as the audience members look to each other asking if the show is really over or not. The lady beside me turns to ask me the same question. I assure her that it must be the interval. Then one man clapped his hands nervously, followed by another before everyone else joined in a very weak round of applause. I strolled out leaving my bag behind, wallet in hand, to get us some interval drinks during what was most definitely the interval. Then my plus one follows with my bag saying she’d overheard the lighting guy tell someone that the director doesn’t agree with actors bowing after the show and that the the performance was over. Slightly confused, I then sat in an armchair in the bar area to gather up my things only to find myself accidentally sitting on a pile of props from the show.

Give me strength.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

The Watcher’s Kaleidoscope has now finished its run at The London Theatre.

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