Pros: Some strong performances and great comedic moments peppered with a few flashes of pathos.
Cons: The first piece really dragged and so the rest of the show was fighting an uphill battle.
The Space theatre, in the far reaches of the Docklands – yes past Canary Wharf – once again hosts its monologue festival One, showcasing a wealth of talent and testing what can be accomplished with just one person on the stage. And it turns out, it’s rather a lot.
Yes, it was a bitterly cold evening to cross London, and the theatre space isn’t that much warmer than outside; yes the bar is bizarrely placed so you have to go out the door into the cold again and around the building; but, that didn’t stop me being excited about seeing what the One Festival had to offer. The monologue/solo performance genre is often an underappreciated theatrical art form but I have always been intrigued by it.
The evening opened with a welcome from Literary Manager/Box Office Wizard/all around Holder-Of-The-Fort Sebastian Rex, who I learn is also the author of the first piece. I don’t give this last fact much thought until part way through the piece when I wonder if it would have got through to a festival performance on its own merits. Thus the problem with Unattended, a piece about a clown sent to bring cheer to a totalitarian state, may just be the absence of a fresh pair of eyes. Performer Tal Jakubowiczova directed herself, and although her clowning was strong her monologue (its performance and its writing) could have used some of those perfecting touches that only an outside perspective can provide.
After the break however things take a turn for the better with Nick Myles’ Wakey Wakey, a touching monologue that deals with the hypocrisy of death and mourning. The story is not overly complex, which really allows Myles’ expert turn of phrase to shine. McGeough’s performance as a coach driver shaken by the death of a man who steps out in front of his coach is a thing of wonder, and a moment to savour in this evening.
Emma Blackman is also extremely entertaining, playing off the humour of cultural difference and non-native speakers. The performance is measured and the story plods along without any surprising turns, but the way the story is told and Blackman’s energy are both utterly captivating.
Coates again brings a great energy to his performance in Ode To Sid, although it’s decidedly more manic than Blackman’s. Fleming’s writing shows just enough to leave a taste of menace, balancing humour, vulnerability and something altogether darker.
The One Festival is a well-balanced and highly entertaining evening and I’m glad I made it across the city to see it. However, there’s no denying that some extra scrutiny, and a touch more discipline could have made it something quite brilliant.
Directors: Tal Jakubowiczova, Nick Myles, Sebastian Rex, Scott Le Crass
Performers: Tal Jakubowiczova, William McGeough, Emma Blackman, Dario Coates
Writers: Sebastian Rex, Nick Myles, John Doble, Leon Fleming
Producer: The Space
Box Office: 020 7515 7799
Booking Link: https://space.org.uk/event-booking/?event=programmeA
Booking Until: Programme A has one more performance on Sun 18 January at 2pm