The Legend of the Holy Drinker
Crescent – The Vaults
Reviewed – 29th January 2020
“the fragmented nature of the story, combined with a strange separateness, do not make for a satisfying audience experience”
Andreas is on the streets, a real down and out. Then one day he is given a thousand pounds by a stranger, who asks him to repay it to St Theresa in Westminster Cathedral. There are many good things about this tale of a homeless man’s extraordinary experiences, but the play as a whole doesn’t really hang together. It feels more style than substance, and there is way too much ‘drunk acting.’
HUNCHTheatre have created The Legend of the Holy Drinker, based on Joseph Roth’s nineteen thirty-nine original. It is stylised and, at times, well choreographed, but there have been some strange decisions made. For example: the use of microphones is effective in creating sounds and atmosphere and in translating some of the dialogue into English, but sometimes when the actors are using them for speech they look up or away, and the sound fades in and out as they move. Then, at other times they don’t use the mics, so why have them at all? A clever use of a roll out ‘bridge’ a huge semi-transparent plastic curtain and umbrellas create set and enhance the action.
There are some nice bits of interaction, but the heart of the problem is a lack of connectedness between the actors. There are some good individual performances and some shared moments that work, and the cast are clearly talented. But the fragmented nature of the story, combined with a strange separateness, do not make for a satisfying audience experience. I did enjoy quite a lot of it, but by the end I was wondering what the director, Vladimir Shcherban had been trying to do, whether the surrealism in the action was making believable interaction impossible, and when Andreas, played by Oleg Sidorchik, was going to stop stumbling around the stage, drunk. Again. The rest of the cast, Emily Houghton, Ed Davis, Eva Mashtaler and Oliver Bennett all play multiple characters, skilfully moving from one to the next. If the company continue with this play I hope they rework it and find a way to tell what is an interesting story in a more coherent way.
Reviewed by Katre