Directed by Titas Halder
Pros: Colman Domingo’s endless energy is contagious in this fun yet emotional piece.
Cons: The concept is not original and the show doesn’t experiment with new ideas or new types of theatre.
Our Verdict: A thoroughly enjoyable show which will get your feet tapping to some awesome tunes. You’ll leave with a smile on your face.
|Courtesy of tricycle.co.uk|
The basic premise of A Boy and his Soul has been seen on stage many times: an autobiographical tale of growing up and coming out. Colman Domingo presents a monologue, lasting around an hour and a half, where he enthusiastically entertains his audience with tales of his awkward childhood and boisterous family members.
Set in the dusty basement of his childhood home, Domingo reminisces over the warped vinyl left behind by his parents when they moved away. He struggles to understand why the records have been left to perish in the damp cellar when the memories of his past are so interlocked with the music of the era. Why, when this music represents all the love his close-knit family had for one another, have they been abandoned? We watch as he relates different points of his life to the different songs and bands, playing them on the old record player or dusty radio.
What I loved about this show was the period of time it covers and the use of quintessentially 70’s soul and dance music. I’m in my mid-twenties, so a little calculation will reveal I wasn’t even a glint in my mother’s eye during the soul music heyday. So although I can’t claim to have been reminded of a youth gone by, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of songs I recognised and could sing along to, and even more impressed by the fact I enjoyed those songs that were new to me. This was partly down to Colman Domingo’s performance. His endless enthusiasm certainly rubbed off onto his audience members. This was particularly recognisable when a distinct “mmmm” of pleasure escaped the mouths of half the audience when Domingo held up a Marvin Gaye record.
What also struck me about Colman Domingo was his ability to portray others. Not only does he play himself but also his two siblings, his mother and stepfather, as well as an assortment of other colourful characters. He really has mastered each individual character, making them distinct. And his ability to combine serious topics (coming out to your family, dealing with the illnesses and death of those closest to you) with perfectly timed comedy is also nothing to be sniffed at. Truly a multi-talented creative mind.
I worry when a piece is written and performed by the same person. Such shows are often narcissistic projects where the performer should have either chosen someone else’s piece or cast another actor. However this is not the case with A Boy and His Soul. Domingo’s script-writing skill is as brilliant as his performance. He writes about his own family, events that happened both happy and sad; nevertheless the piece is fast-paced and humorous. His performance is passionate and he seems to have endless energy right until the end. Because he enjoys telling us this story, he is fantastic, and because he is fantastic the audience loves his show.
A Boy and His Soul doesn’t claim to take steps into the unknown and unchartered world of performance art and it certainly isn’t the heavy, emotionally draining piece many reviewers crave. What it is, however, is wonderful and fun. Its light-heartedness doesn’t threaten the brilliance of this show but rather makes it the enjoyable piece it is.
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A Boy and His Soul runs until the 21st September 2013.
Box office: 020 7328 1000 or book online at http://www.tricycle.co.uk/current-programme-pages/theatre/theatre-programme-main/a-boy-and-his-soul/.