EARNEST AND EFFECTIVE
And, blackout. As quick as the lights go down inside the intimate Studio 2 of Trafalgar Studios, THIS IS LIVING has already set its tone. Silence stands comfortably in the space, not needing to fill empty gaps in order to be entertaining. Silence is a welcome visitor throughout and occasionally creates the most engrossing moments of this already thought provoking piece of theatre. The natural element of the words,when they do come match the flow of the water beneath the actors feet in a simple but effective staging of young writer, Liam Barrett’s play.
Speaking on his play, writer and director Barrett says “How do you say goodbye?” A complex question posed to Alice and Michael after a terrible accident that changes not only their lives but the life of their three year old daughter, Lily. Although never seen on stage, the weight of this child is felt during every present conversation between the parents.
Told in non linear fashion, we get snippets of a vibrant past as well as the devastating truth of the present. These moments are stitched together well weaving in and out seamlessly, often contrasting in mood, atmosphere and tone. Your struck with the innocence of these characters during a not so chance meeting on a London train during the first flashback. Long before the accident that will strip that innocence away, we are given an insight into who they are and sets up segments that will pay off later.
The dialogue coming from Alice (Tamla Kari), is as lively as the character itself. Described as not being able to finish a sentence due to another beginning matches the frantic energy she brings. “Sometimes you wonder what’s real” adds Michael (Michael Socha), who is often trying to articulate what he’s feeling when Alice is already 6 thoughts ahead. The two actors show a vulnerable side that we can all relate to, regardless of it being on or under the surface. Funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, both actors deserve plaudits for the ability to convey an array of emotions in such quick succession. More importantly, for me, allowing the interactions with each other to form organically rather than hitting the lines that they knew would receive a chuckle or pull at the heartstrings. One of the strongest aspects of the show is its skill in placing you in the part, getting you to think how you would react in the same situation. Theatre at its best, shows exactly this, Empathy with the lives showcased in front of you.
Liam Barrett deals with difficult themes and does so with grace as you find comedy in sadness and vice versa. THIS IS LIVING culminates to a satisfying ending that will have you listening to not only the actors on stage but the sobs and laughs from the audience. Writing that speaks to each individual at the same time as being universal, is never an easy feat and this young writer has it here.
THIS IS LIVING is a stripped back, grass roots theatre piece on love, life and loss with very few missteps. Competition is always fierce in terms of London’s theatre scene, however the play you haven’t heard of is the play you have to see
THIS IS LIVING
May 17 – June 11
Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY
Monday – Saturday 7:45pm
Thursday and Saturday matinees 3pm
£15.00 – £30.00
0844 871 7632
*Please note that THIS IS LIVING contains themes of an adult nature