Ram Jam Records
Reviewed – 3rd March 2019
“will remind you why you fell in love with bare-knuckle back room theatre in the first place”
Whereas it’s not always the case in one-person shows, the solitary nature of this production amplifies and sharpens the performance. Sarah Woodruff animates three delightfully detailed characters who sit inexplicably well together as diminutive or transparentised versions of some other real person: three shades.
Woodruff enters from the back, barefoot, and is revealed to be the ghost of a slaughtered Roma lady who resolves to haunt those who murdered her. The material proceeds chronologically – then to a contemporary divorcee who, as she handles the breakdown of a marriage, threatens her home wrecking dog walker. Finally, there is a ‘Girlie’ robot serving as a geriatric carer – overjoyed and not saddened by its possible ‘decommissioning’.
James Kemp directs Woodruff well, and there is careful attention paid to the missing half of each conversation. Where the typical one-person show has large actor shaped holes on stage and in the dialogue, Three Shades uses timing and glances to allow the missing characters to almost speak on their own terms.
This idea of people flattened out by death, by loss, and by design was original and refreshing but, at times, delivered with modest stinginess. The ideas contained within were novel, but there was a little voice whispering ‘so what?’ in my ear. A forty five minute running time is brave and humble, but when the ideas were this different it’s fair to come back, bowl in hand, uttering ‘Please sir, can I have some more’.
For those of you who ‘do’ Fringe Theatre, Three Shades (and the lovely and characterful Ram Jam Records) will refill wells which have drawn dry by lesser productions. There’s a precious joy in art that makes you reflect on other work and say “oh that’s what they were going for.” Just one actor suddenly is the right artistic choice and gives the people on stage the focus and time they deserve. The quirky humour of a husband-stealing dog walker suddenly isn’t because the writer couldn’t think of a proper joke, but instead serves to alienate and abstract the figure we see before us.
Woodruff’s thoughtful script attended by her tremendously dextrous performance will remind you why you fell in love with bare-knuckle back room theatre in the first place.
Reviewed by William Nash
Ram Jam Records
Previously reviewed at this venue: