“There is a lovely sense of trust, respect and rapport between the performers”
Jade Anouka is an actor and poet, and our host for the evening. Tonight she is joined by Grace Savage, four time UK beatboxing champion and musician, to perform pieces from Anouka’s recently published book of poems, “Eggs on Toast.” The piece is split into four sections: uncertainties and doubts, early love quickly followed by break ups, and finally identity. The poems themselves veer between witty and clever, and tender and moving. Strength gives way to vulnerability, emotions are laid bare or coated in humour, as Anouka comments on her experiences of living in London, falling in and out of love, feelings of inadequacy and box ticking approaches to identity.
Anouka has a fantastic presence onstage, confident and warm and infectiously likeable, slipping from poet to host with ease. She is natural and easy to watch and immediately engaging. She has a wonderful understanding of pace and rhythm, balancing fast paced moments with slower confessions and never missing a word.
Her partner in performance, Savage, laces her undeniable skill with playfulness and creativity. She uses a loop station to construct beats with samples, at moments creating soundscapes, a kettle boiling in a breakfast setting, for example, transporting us to the scene of the poem.
There is a lovely sense of trust, respect and rapport between the performers, and they are visually united by touches of neon orange in clothing, accessories and equipment. Their techniques work fantastically together, combining to blur the line between spoken word and rap.
This is a beautiful performance of spoken word and beatboxing, engaging, impressive, and deeply truthful.
Angela is a teacher, the last of the old guard, dealing with impossibly young teaching assistants who offer her help every time she squints at her phone. Her son, Nathan, is now a parent himself, a stay at home dad in fact. Patrick left them both twenty years ago. But now he’s back, and he’s dying, and they need to decide how to react. This is a beautiful piece of writing by writer and spoken word artist Polarbear, strong across both form and language, supported by consistently strong acting, that tackles family, abandonment and loneliness in a deeply truthful way.
The piece is beautifully staged, each scene flowing organically into the next, the actors never leaving the stage. It is made up predominantly of monologues that merge into intermittent scenes between characters completely naturally. Human, truthful and intimate, this is theatre to an incredibly high standard.
All of the actors are strong, no weak link across the cast. Lorna Laidlaw as Angela is particularly engaging, warm and playful when we first meet her getting excited over an offer of chocolate Hobnobs, followed by a deeply relatable and moving performance as the play unfolds.
My only complaint is that I was not ready for the play to end, both to its credit and to its detriment. The play could easily have continued for another hour, and, in my opinion, should have. The ending as it stands feels unnecessarily abrupt and open ended. Whilst a complete resolve isn’t needed, the level of openness feels ultimately unsatisfying for an audience. However it is of course to the play’s credit that I am sufficiently involved in and connected to this world that I want to know more.
This is an incredibly strong piece of theatre, flawed only by a premature ending. From its writing to its performance, this is an otherwise faultless production.