A Great Big Sigh
Hen & Chickens Theatre
Reviewed – 5th September 2019
“a lot of the audience roared with laughter at his antics and I would be foolish to ignore this feedback”
Formed just last year, ‘Moose & Noodle Soup’ theatre company follow up an earlier run at The Hope Theatre with this two handed show.
As we enter the theatre, we are presented by a man and a woman, both gagged and tied to a chair and sitting facing each other in a basement. It soon becomes apparent that this pair have been kidnapped and they discover that they have a set amount of time to solve some clues, each of which has a number as its answer, these numbers being the code to a safe from which they can retrieve a key and escape. Failure to do this in the time limit and we are led to believe that the room will explode.
A fairly bare stage with just the two pieces of furniture, a small suspended window, a hotel like small safe and a few books. The action takes place in real time and occasionally a voiceover informs the characters how long they have left to complete their task. A little like watching an episode of The Crystal Maze, although the cryptic clues are not exactly Times crossword level.
A Great Big Sigh is not a drama though, it is very definitely a comedy. Walter (Riley Marinelli) has the majority of the humorous moments. Dressed a little like Rupert Bear in green checks and red trousers and bizarrely sporting roller blades, he is a wacky, hyperactive, hugely frustrating character who will not focus on the task in hand for more than a few seconds. On the other hand, Tina (Maryhee Yoon) is a calm, focussed, delightfully normal young lady who you would be quite happy to spend an hour of your time in a basement with. This is a very physical show. Walter expertly manoeuvres himself around the stage whilst tied to a fallen chair and one moment where he lifts Tina, almost drops her which then ends in a perfect handstand, is so expertly and casually done that I wanted to leap out of my chair with a scorecard of ten.
But for all the noise, irritation and over the top acting from Walter, occasionally the tempo slows and we discover the characters’ back stories. Tina’s, so worryingly commonplace in this day and age, you wondered how such a strong character emerged. Walter’s so tragic, so poignant, that you suddenly wanted to buy him a beer and give him a big hug.
“You make stronger friendships when you go through adversity together” was a line from Walter that tied the whole plot together for me. Walter’s character is not my type of humour, but a lot of the audience roared with laughter at his antics and I would be foolish to ignore this feedback.
Moose & Noodle Soup’s mission statement is to transport audiences into ridiculous scenarios and they certainly achieved that in A Great Big Sigh. I left the theatre thinking of loneliness, friendship and how poor my long division is. I couldn’t help thinking that however extrovert a person may be, however outrageous their behaviour is, there is often a little cry for help beneath the surface which is extremely dangerous to ignore.
Reviewed by Chris White
Photography by Lidia Crisafulli
A Great Big Sigh
Hen and Chickens Theatre until 8th September
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: