Pros: Has a pleasantly hypnotic effect.
Cons: The narrator’s sardonic asides sometimes break the spell of the story.
Picture one of those 1980s pop duos – Erasure, Eurythmics, Pet Shop Boys – where there’s a flamboyant one out front, and a somewhat milder one stuck behind a keyboard or guitar. Now imagine that the flamboyant one has a Russell Brand-ian relish for language, and is telling a story that combines magical realism with a touch of Dickens and a jot of Lemony Snicket. Finally, place the whole thing in a fortune-teller’s grotto, at the end of a pier, and you have an approximation of Annie Siddon’s Raymondo.
Raymondo and his brother have been locked in a cellar for six years when, in a burst of optimism, they conceive of, and execute, a surprisingly simple escape. Though they initially fall on their feet, it’s much too early for a happy ending, so the plot twists, and they find themselves duped, abused and exploited. Siddons tells the story in a deep, rich voice that’s a pleasure to listen to (though I would have preferred fewer glottal stops). She does some wonderful accents that bring to life even the minor characters, and varies the pace with a delivery that is sometimes languid, sometimes urgent. The language of the story is lush and poetic, packed with brilliant imagery, irony, wit and social commentary. No less than any conventional play, these words have been written to be spoken, rather than read.
The quiet accomplice, Daniel Green, provides most of the music, on guitar, but occasionally interjects either in the character of Sparky, the little brother, or as a cynical commentator on human existence. His music is gentle and lyrical, but when Siddons joins in on keyboard, the tone becomes darker and more atmospheric.
The show takes place in one of BAC’s smaller spaces, and is made more intimate by the set, which consists of assorted standard lamps, with uplighters in old tin cans. My companion and I tried but failed to establish the significance of these props, however the effect was aesthetically pleasing, and the different lights fading on and off added a layer of visual interest to a predominantly aural experience.
Raymondo may be a bit too whimsical and wacky for some. There is a self-consciousness about Siddon’s style, her very deliberate way of moving about the stage, and the intensity between the two musicians when they play, which could easily be off-putting. But if it’s storytelling without attitude that you’re after, then there’s always the local library. This is virtuoso storytelling, whose campness in no way detracts from its sincerity. If, like me, you go to the theatre to sit in the dark and be told stories, then you won’t be disappointed in Raymondo.
Author: Annie Siddons
Director: Justin Audibert
Composer: Marcus Hamblett
Booking Until: 20th December 2015
Box office: 020 7223 2223