One Hundred Trillion
Old Vic Workrooms
Reviewed – 7th April 2019
“The Dot Collective and director Laura Harling have created something truly beautiful”
Walking into the venue I was spoken to by someone who I thought was a helpful road worker, he said “are you here for that One Hundred Trillion thing? It’s over there”. I proceeded to walk into the venue thinking nothing more of this. On receiving my ticket I was directed to walk up some stairs where I was greeted in an exaggerated manner by a gentleman who showed me the way to the bar or to the toilets … I chose the bar. I didn’t think much about my earlier encounters as I listened to the live music being performed in there by two of the cast.
I think it’s important to say that this isn’t a ‘show’ or even a ‘performance’, I feel it surpasses those terms and sits better being referred to as an experience, and what an experience it is. We are exposed to facts and figures regarding dementia which we struggle to comprehend only to be then given a visual way of thinking about it, with the idea of the bookshelf. This helps us picture how the mind works in this way and the reasons some memories are kept and some drift away.
The experience then takes us on a literal journey around the building putting us in rooms covered in writings from actual people that the company has connected with through its research. These stories and real answers to questions littering the walls allow us into the very different minds that created them, they feel true and grounded. This is something I came back to a lot during the evening, the idea of truth and authenticity. The portrayal of those incredibly touching yet personal stories was sensitively done, letting us into the lives of those affected.
Interlacing the performance elements are snippets of footage from the various nursing homes the company had visited, reminding us that these are real people and what they say matters. These clips were sometimes supported with voiceovers from the creatives on the project explaining what they had done and who they had connected with in order to get their material, this cemented for me that this was a labour of love and not a vanity project. The creative team and seven strong cast gave an impression of really caring, and for an audience this means a lot, we feel comfortable laughing at funny lines and more importantly we feel okay to shed a tear when it touches us.
One Hundred Trillion is a promenade piece and each journey into a new room is a different performance – The Frames, written by Chantelle Dusette, I Could Have Danced All Night by Margaret Perry, Lucy Grace’s Topsoil, and London Bus by Lily Bevan.
The Dot Collective and director Laura Harling have created something truly beautiful, making memories feel real and showing us how important it is to celebrate what we remember because one day there’s a chance you might forget. A true work of brilliance, sensitively crafted and authentically shown, touching the audience on a human level.
Reviewed by Laurie Wilson
Photography by Headshot Toby
One Hundred Trillion
Old Vic Workrooms until 11th May
Little Pieces of Gold
Staged Reading Sessions
Reviewed – 10th October 2018
“the event has become a kind of deconstructed theatre form, with high quality casts and directors attached to each low budget production”
Writers able to fund their own shows are unlikely to be the most deserving of exposure so Suzette Coon’s talent showcase is invaluable. It’s also a rich experience for audiences. Far from the dour-sounding ‘Reading session’ billed, the event has become a kind of deconstructed theatre form, with high quality casts and directors attached to each low budget production.
The night’s six works, chosen from six hundred, begin with a comedy that dredges laughs from the low wage economy. ‘Sandwiches’ by Clare Reddaway shows life on the sandwich production line, with three tightly written acts squeezing in erotic sandwich fillings, a villain with a whistle played by Nigel Fyfe and a showdown at the industry’s ‘Sarnies’ awards.
Two women also see off an obnoxious male in the second of the night’s comedies, ‘Body Language’ by Sarah Pitard. Stefan Menaul draws howls of recognition as the excruciating, self-obsessed Tom, hitting on Katrina (Amy Reitsma) while she is trying to read up on cancer. Both his monologue and that of the eavesdropping Susan (Meaghan Martin), a cancer survivor, are fluent, funny and fierce.
Most of the plays carry a message about modern life but the exception is ‘Bothy’ by Ben Rogers, a tale of two men taking refuge in the Scottish hills. Callum is a jolly, yet strangely sinister local handyman; Andrew is a claims manager up from Croydon. The economy of the script and the way it keeps the audience guessing as to the motives of Callum display a rare gift of scene-writing, heightened further by the performances and direction. (David Beatty, Adam Mirsky and Imogen Wyatt Corner, respectively).
‘Humane’ follows, by Polly Creed, reviving a forgotten news story about Essex locals who face down riot police to end live exports of animals. Absolved of the need for visual dramatics, this work is liberated by the format, as Georgia Nicholson sits facing the audience, relating her character’s story with obdurate humanity.
Little happens in ‘Becoming’ by Trevor Kaneswaran, just a few quiet moments in the life of Praveen, who rejects his Sri Lankan roots as he slopes home from football and exchanges monosyllables with his Mum like any British teen. Once his uncle arrives Praveen understands more about who he is and takes up cricket. Slow, filmic, even in this basic form, and elevated by Akshay Gulati’s perfectly pitched delivery.
The choice for finale is Chantelle Dusette’s Windrush tale, ‘Where de Mangoes Grow’. A simple but eloquent poem spliced through with a montage of scenes, moments and recordings, yet it conveys an entire era of betrayal. Exquisite performances from all, but Reece Pantry’s slow acceptance of loss is impossibly moving.
Beautifully curated, and with all six plays and their casts giving a glimpse of some eye-catching talents, the ‘Little Pieces of Gold’ enterprise is well-named.
Reviewed by Dominic Gettins
Little Pieces of Gold
Previously reviewed at this venue: