Lion and Unicorn Theatre
One of the long-suffering editors at ET has been known to say “I wish they would use a thesaurus” to stop us reviewers from repeatedly using the word ‘good’ or ‘overall’ or other choice terms. Actually, the editor uses a few four letter words in that particular request but you get the gist… Well, last night I saw All This Must Pass at Lion & Unicorn Theatre and frankly, for this review I could look up captivating, magnetic, smart, funny, brilliant, skilful, beautiful, and just list all the possible synonyms until I hit the maximum word count.
An unnamed Woman tells us of her ancestors, showing us snippets of their lives, from royalty in France to Salem Massachusetts, to the First World War and even taking in a visit to Tayto Park in Ireland.
Aidan Morris’ performance is simply remarkable while Aurelia Gage’s script is riveting. Morris brings the audience with her for every scene; we hang on to her every move, even as she simply brings a plastic chair to the back of the stage. The tone shifts as easily as Woman shifts between different ancestors and Morris handles them with skill and mastery. A lot of these stories are heavy, but Gage’s script is sprinkled with laughs. These stories and this history are all a part of how this Woman came to be today: they formed her life, before she was even born. She doesn’t sugar-coat these lives; there is gratitude, appreciation, anger and resentment. As for all of us, the actions of our ancestors going back hundreds of years almost certainly would not bring universal pride and approval.
The lighting and sound (by Sophie Goodman) show not just the different times but also repeatedly brings us back to the now. As each story echoes, the words come back to haunt the Woman and to haunt us, as we learn just why these stories are so important to her right at this moment and why she has undertaken this particular journey into the past. In the penultimate scene, Morris’ dance is beautiful and devastating; I felt every second of it. Not only that, I could sense the impact it was having in the room all around, as the audience for just a moment collectively forgot to breathe. Morris’ background as a dancer combined with choreography by Keeley Pears and direction also by Gage: literally breath-taking.
After the applause finished and the lights came on, there was a noticeable pause, a moment for us to gather ourselves before people started to pick up their bags and head off into the evening. Even reflecting on the production now, the next afternoon, All This Must Pass is unambiguously magnificent. Free School Lunch Theatre has put something really special together here and deserves massive congratulations. If I could give this more than five stars, I would.
Written & Directed by: Aurelia Gage
Dramaturgy & Assistant Director by: Adelina Uglow
Stage Managed by: Sophie Goodman
Tech Support by: Bethany Manicom
Choreography by: Keeley Pears
All This Must Pass played at Lion and Unicorn Theatre until as part of Camden Fringe.
It plays again at Lion and Unicorn from 4 – 8 February, bookings can be made here.