Hear me Howl
Old Red Lion Theatre
Reviewed – 19th September 2018
“This is a one woman show, and quite honestly I can’t see anyone better for the job of carrying it than Alice Pitt-Carter”
It’s always an interesting sign when you’re handed a pair of earplugs when entering a theatre, with the looming promise of “some loud moments”. This was a very sensible idea for a show with a very large drum kit in a very small and isolated space, although I personally couldn’t work out how to only block out the drumming without losing the words that followed and preceded it.
In general, I absolutely loved Lydia Rynne’s debut creation Hear Me Howl. It’s depressingly rare to come across a show that portrays the experience of being a young woman with such minute accuracy. There was something delightfully conspiratorial about taking the moments experienced by virtually all young women in variations of her position: the friends who are also competitors or the uncertainty about when you can reasonably count yourself as an adult, and then talking about them, directly, with an audience also made up primarily of young women.
However, I was left with a sense that this play got caught up in something of a false dichotomy. It’s treated as self evident that the only two options on offer are either a totally staid life involving a baby and a relationship and a job, or touring the country with a band called Finrot. This felt a little forced; surely a middle ground can and does exist between these two, in which personal fulfillment can exist without dropping everything that makes it easier to live and function in society?
The journey that our protagonist goes on – from a not unsuccessful young professional with a flat and a boyfriend that she’s “at least half in love with” to the same girl, now touring the country’s seediest bars with the post punk group she accidentally joined – feels far more reasonable when she tells it. A few incidents of being in the right (or wrong) place and time with the right (or wrong) people, and just about anything can happen.
This is a one woman show, and quite honestly I can’t see anyone better for the job of carrying it than Alice Pitt-Carter. A stage devoid of other people is a lonely place to be, and the powers of storytelling and audience connection that it require are formidable, but she made it seem so easy. Between her space buns, dead albatross t-shirt and slightly hysterical humour, it was genuinely easy to forget that this was a play, written by one woman and performed by another. It felt much closer to a friend telling us what a ridiculous few months she’s had.
What I really loved is that this is essentially, a play about abortion. But it proved that it’s possible to talk about abortion without only talking about grief and pain and fear. The hope and self responsibility are just as important. Here, the abortion is more of an act of reclaiming the self from layers of interpersonal and social pressure. These undercurrents of trying to recover yourself from what everyone else expects you to be run deep in this play, adding up to something seriously impressive.
Reviewed by Grace Patrick
Photography by Will Lepper
Hear me Howl
Old Red Lion Theatre until 29th September
Reviewed at this venue in 2018