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Adventure/Misadventure, Ovalhouse

Written and directed by Nick Field

Pros: Poetic writing, memorable original music and the theatre even lay on sushi and saki.
Cons: The performance lacks polish; aspects of the show felt gimmicky and I felt the play’s message to be trite.
Our Verdict: The mixture of rollerskating, harp playing, and travel writing does not add up to a rewarding theatrical experience.
Courtesy of Ovalhouse 
Adventure/Misadventure got off to a wonderful start when, upon arrival at the Ovalhouse theatre, I was given complimentary sushi and warm saki to enjoy in the theatre’s lovely lounge. Unfortunately, the performance itself did not live up to this promising start.
This one-man show, written by and starring Nick Field, is essentially travel writing turned into a play. The character of Nick is a sensitive, open-minded and philosophical young traveller. Narrating to the audience his adventures across the globe, the monologue juxtaposes Nick’s amazing travel memories with stories of the drudgery of mundane and unsatisfying employment back in the UK. There is also a poignant narrative about coming-of-age as a gay teen. Field is a poet, and the play contains many lyrical descriptions.
The play’s central question is what motivates our relatively modern phenomenon of wanderlust. Nick is looking for a feeling of freedom and observes that if we add up all the moments of freedom we’ve ever felt, it would only last the length of one pop song. My personal experience concurs that the experience of travel never lives up to the expectation and, try as we might, we can never truly feel like we have escaped.
Unfortunately, the show contains some elements that struck me as gimmicky. The play’s tagline ‘a megamix of theatre, rollerskating and a dash of surrealism’, made me think that rollerskating would play a large part in the experience. In fact, Nick skates for just five minutes at the beginning of the play and for no apparent reason. I also could not see the point of the surrealist, Dr Seuss-inspired set. To me, both felt needless. Nick also performs a few songs, usually singing while playing the harp. There is a particularly memorable rendition of 9 to 5, performed as a creepy and depressing ballad. While I enjoyed the songs, again, I could not see that they were necessary. Even more fatally, Field did not command the audience well and his performance needs more polish; he fluffed quite a few of his lines. 
One-man shows are of course strenuous for the actor, and I did see this play early on in its run, so it may yet improve. Ultimately though, the play’s message that feelings of freedom are rare and constantly evade us when we search for them struck me as an obvious one, leaving me asking again what the purpose of this play is.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!
Adventure/Misadventure runs at Ovalhouse until the 22nd June 2013.
Box Office: 020 7582 7680 or book online at: http://www.ovalhouse.com/whatson/booktickets/Adventure

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