London – Central
(Various London locations are available)
Reviewed – 4th September 2020
“feels creatively alive, tender and hopeful; it leaves a lasting artistic shimmer and sprinkles a touch of magic”
C-o-n-t-a-c-t is an outdoor immersive promenade production, that takes place on the edge of the river, five minutes from Monument tube (other locations are available). Plugged into headphones, through a previously downloaded app (all very simple, and efficiently handled by the facilitator, who we meet 10 minutes before the production begins), the audience hears the thoughts and conversation of the two characters, one of whom we are instructed to follow.
The concept is a simple one, and reminiscent of Wim Wenders’ masterwork Wings of Desire: a guardian angel is on earth in human form, and he has appeared in order to help a young, lost and grieving woman get over the death of her father. Written by Eric Chantelauze, it is a delicate 50 minute reflection on grief. In Quentin Bruno’s English adaptation, the writing is predominantly colloquial and straightforward, with occasional excursions into a slightly more meditative realm, and for the most part works well, though an unfortunate last minute detour into Latin does feel hackneyed and unnecessary. Max Gold, as the angel Raphael, fails to convince in this instance, and the grandeur of the language reduces, rather than enhances, his angelic aura.
This was a rare jarring moment however. Samuel Sené (director and creator of the original production, along with Gabrielle Jourdain) has put some lovely subtle movement sequences in place within the characters’ walk together, and there are many moments of gentle beauty, particularly in Laura White’s performance as Sarah, which seamlessly embodies Aoife Kennan’s spoken narrative. The atmosphere is also hugely enhanced by Cyril Barbessol’s contemplative, melodic piano, which is a continuous musical thread throughout the piece, and works brilliantly under a London sky and against the grand, ceaseless flow of the Thames.
In these strange and pretty desperate times for live theatre, C-o-n-t-a-c-t feels creatively alive, tender and hopeful; it leaves a lasting artistic shimmer and sprinkles a touch of magic on a September evening. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw
Photography by Pamela Raith
Various London locations until 4th October see www.contactshow.co.uk for full details
Previously reviewed this year by Rebecca:
Reviewed – 8th November 2018
“a faultless play, balancing contemplative moments with scenes of alcohol fuelled energy”
Not even a minute ago the audience was mingling in the downstairs bar, laughter and the exchange of greetings filling the room. Upon taking our seats in the theatre, however, the mood changes immediately. All the focus shifts to the lone figure sitting centre stage, the living room setting feels like it is being drained of all the life it might once have held.
Abi (Joyce Omotola) seems out of place amid bright and glittery decorations. Two balloons, in the shape of a one and a two, clearly mark this out as a 21st birthday party. Loud music is blaring, and a narrow table holds several bottles of alcohol and an impressive collection of red solo cups. A Happy Birthday sign has become partly detached from the front of the table and stray balloons are scattered across the floor.
Gradually, the music becomes more and more distorted until it completely gives way to Abi’s voice as she proclaims: “Humans need to feel like a pack. Hunter over the hunted”. The clickety-clack of a typewriter accompanies her speech. As she rises to her feet the purple spotlight which had been focused on Abi is extinguished, her figure now drenched in darkness. Classical music springs to life as the five remaining characters enter the stage, ethereally gliding into position surrounding the figure of Abi.
Omish, written by Sophie Soanes and directed by Ewa Dina, is the debut play of the newly formed Lunar Theatre Company. A collection of young, female creatives, they have made it their mission to support women whose voices and stories are not being represented on stage. The play takes place over the course of one night. It’s Savannah’s (Keletso Kesupile) 21st birthday party. All her best friends are invited, drinks have been poured and everyone is bursting with gossip. Between university commitments and new boyfriends, the friends have a lot to share. The celebratory atmosphere is broken by the arrival of Savannah’s cousin Abi who brings with her a past the group would rather forget.
The all-female cast fall into character without hesitation. Becky (Sophie Soanes), who embodies Cyndi Lauper’s hit song Girls Just Want to Have Fun, dispels any awkwardness from the group with her loud, energetic personality. Joining her and birthday girl Savannah are nuclear engineering student and Waitrose shopping vegan Lola (Naomi Emmanuel), social media influencer Zara (Laura White) and Jess (Shannon Watson) who, obsessed with her boyfriend, starts every sentence with Josh and me.
Omish is a faultless play, balancing contemplative moments with scenes of alcohol fuelled energy. Twists and turns lead the audience from a moment of safety to sudden danger. Lunar took on the challenge of discussing sex, pleasure, gender equality, terrorism, online witch hunts and more in one play and executed it perfectly. A praise which can’t be attributed to the talents of one individual only, but to the genuine feeling of friendship in the cast and the not to be missed, breath-taking story.
Reviewed by Alexandra Wilbraham
Photography courtesy Lunar Theatre
Courtyard Theatre until 24th November
Previously reviewed at this venue: