Home » Reviews » Off West End » Lost Soles (Programme A), 38 Earlham Street – Review

Lost Soles (Programme A), 38 Earlham Street – Review

Radha S Menon, Chloe Mashiter, Liam Tweddle, Mike Carter and Deschaney Tate
Directed by Nick Myles, Hannah Quigley, Blythe Stewart, Gavin Dent and Tom Lake
★★★

Pros: Endearing, heartwarming and incredibly culturally revealing.

Cons: Some staging issues meant that a lot of the audience couldn’t see anything.

Our Verdict: A very intriguing night of short plays which revealed themes of loneliness, dissatisfaction and longing – but managed never to be melancholy.

Courtesy of Riff Raff Productions

Lost Soles is a collection of new writing inspired by images donated on twitter to #abandonedshoes. The show’s various short plays presented a gallery of characters giving insights into their lives – inspired by lost shoes. Certainly an interesting concept, and added to that, the performance took place in a shop (a pop-up theatre), which gave an added coziness to the production. But what about the new plays themselves? Each of the 5 new scripts deserves a short appraisal…

Firstly, in Marooned by Radha S Menon, a Jamaican man is being interviewed and is preparing to go out. Moved by the plight of other immigrants trying to find a better life, he keeps noticing things he is unable to ignore. Clive Llewellyn made this character lovable and intriguing and kept the audience utterly engaged.

The second play was Slipping by Chloe Mashiter, a monologue performed by Katy Sage. This was my favourite character of the night. Her tale was a Proust-like transportation to her grandparents’ bungalow upon seeing her grandmother’s slippers. There was a wonderful balance of being slightly deranged but totally understandable.

Next was Rory and Rascal by Liam Tweddle, a short two-hander about the end of the world. Two Irishmen (Collie McCarthy and Barry McStay) sit on a beach and contemplate what they are leaving behind. Easily the funniest piece of the night, there was a wonderfully pitched fluidity which made the piece both poignant and light-hearted. However, this work could have been improved by directing it with the audience position in mind: most of the action took place sitting down – entirely out of eyesight for those 3 or more rows back.

The penultimate play was Balls by Mike Carter. A man (played by Paul Thomas) makes a joke in youth that he will dance naked on his friend’s grave. The friend actually dies and he is fulfilling his promise. The actor’s ability to be pathetic yet interesting was quite compelling. What le­t this play down was that there was no evolution. Once the premise and emotional state had been presented, there was nothing new to learn and no new action.

Finally, Box to Line by Deschaney Tate was a story told from the perspective of the footwear: two shoes, Right and Left go on a walk with their human. Performed by Carmella Brown and Owen Jenkins, this was an incredibly endearing insight in to the life of a shoe. The motion of the shoes walking brought a well judged rhythm to what could have been dull static dialogue. There was more of a narrative/climax to this piece than the others which made it feel like a short story.

The quality of these individual shows was generally high but there were a few logistical problems which did interrupt the experience – it was far too warm, it felt very long with no interval, there were no programs (which I think are rather essential for showcases like this) and if you weren’t in the front two rows, you couldn’t see below waist height. Whilst these issues made things a little uncomfortable, each work pulled me in so much I stopped minding.

Lost Soles was a night that started with an interesting concept and presented us with some fascinating new writing. It was a shame we only saw the inspiring tweet on two of the performances as the ‘realness’ of the inspirations complimented nicely the very genuine stories that emerged. A few logistical issues also needed re-addressing, but overall this was was an enjoyable evening of new writing. There is a second half to this idea (Programme B), which would certainly be worth discovering also.

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

Lost Soles runs until 22nd September 2013 at the pop-up gallery/theatre 38 Earlham Street. 
Box Office: 020 7240 6283 or visit http://tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/tbt_performanceListing.asp?classname=soles

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