Lion & Unicorn Theatre
Reviewed – 23rd March 2018
“forces its audience to acknowledge the value of time and the sadness of life’s brevity”
James Lewis’ authentic and relatable new play ‘Feel’ makes for an extraordinary evening’s entertainment as it hops between being ingeniously witty and soul-wrenchingly moving. Directed by David Brady and set in the summer of 2016, the scenes cross cut between the bench on the platform of an unspecified train station and the bedroom of an understated flat, as four Londoners struggle with their life-long search for love, laughter and meaning. The set is simplistic but perfectly functional and its lack of bells and whistles is undoubtedly a blessing. This is a very wordy play and its real-world costumes and recognisable images allow the audience to pay close attention to the dialogue of the piece; for it is here that the magic really lies.
The text follows Nick and Karen, who meet on a train platform and whose differences in humour, countenance and spirit draw them closer to each other by the second; and Jamie and Naomi who turn out to be far more similar than either of them would like to let on. The couples fall madly, and sometimes begrudgingly, in love with each other and the performances of all four actors are stunning. Jonathon George’s portrayal of a man on the brink of self-destruction is incredibly moving and Isobel Eadie’s exceptional take on a reckless, grieving young woman makes the character’s on-the-page spite miraculously endearing. Gemma Wray and James Vincent bring an enviable chemistry to Nick and Karen and bring to life the relationship most of us fantasise about. Never predictable, these four actors truly astonish with the depths of their performances as they prove that there is something of Nick, Karen, Jamie and Naomi in each of us.
‘Feel’ serves as a punishing but worthy reminder that everybody you meet is dealing with their own heartache. It forces its audience to acknowledge the value of time and the sadness of life’s brevity; and the exquisite score brings the sometimes repetitive blackout transitions back to life. ‘Feel’ will leave you with a burning need to remind your loved ones that you care, but will also leave you with a will to smile at the boy who’s crying in the seat opposite you on the tube, or to buy a coffee for the girl behind you in the queue in Starbucks. If everyone is dealing with their own issues, ‘Feel’ is the perfect piece of persuasion to just try to be a little bit kinder to the world.
Reviewed by Sydney Austin
Photography by Nick Brittain
Lion & Unicorn Theatre until 31st March