So, not a million obviously, but enough that I lost count half way through the first Act. In the programme the author, Craig Taylor, describes the original inspiration for writing these short scenes, which came as he overheard conversations whilst working in a hardware store. Despite having been developed, tweaked and embellished, they still have that quality of being snatches of something that has been witnessed in a restaurant or street or tube train.
All parts are played brilliantly by Emma Barclay and Alec Nicholls. At first both of them seem to be a bit of a strange shape, with lumps and bumps in places you would not usually expect to see them. This is because they have just about all of the various costumes on at once and gradually divest themselves of the outer layers as the many different characters are presented.
Each ‘play’ is a few minutes long, preceded by a short announcement informing us in which part of Britain it is based. To allow for the quick costume and set changes there is a very short interlude of music and/or sound effects, all of which were perfectly timed, every time. Hats off to the sound engineer. Complementing the super quick costume changes, Barclay and Nicholls instantly morph into their different characters. They cover all ages from children to the elderly, swap and change gender and make reasonable attempts at different regional accents, although that was not a strength. Audience interaction was though, and it was a pity there was not more of it.
The stories were a mix of poignant, amusing or just people getting on with life. A few that stood out for me: the antics of the two ushers at the start; the lonely lady attempting to chat with the Ukrainian man who was delivering leaflets; one side of a telephone conversation, 95% of which consisted entirely of the word ‘Yes’ said in a myriad of different ways; and an argument over who was going to pay a restaurant bill, which I’ve witnessed many times. The consumption of food and drink seemed to feature a lot; not sure what that says about society. This was a gentle and entertaining couple of hours.
Written by: Craig Taylor
Directed by: Laura Keefe
Produced by: Jermyn Street Theatre in association with The Watermill Theatre
Sound Design by: Harry Linden Johnson
Set and Costume by: Ceci Calf
Box Office: 0207 287 2875
Booking Link: https://www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/show/one-million-tiny-plays-about-britain
Booking Until: 11 January 2020