Lucy and the Hawk at Ovalhouse Theatre
Creepy phone calls and birds of prey are disturbing the peace in the Ovalhouse theatre production of Lucy and the Hawk.
Written and directed by Phil Ormrod as part of his collaboration with Oliver Lamford in Switchback, an initiative to create “a diverse range of work that gathers people together to look with widened eyes at each other and the world”, he has certainly achieved his aim of drawing an audience to look wide-eyed at a highly original and thought-provoking play.
Performed and co-devised by Abigail Moffatt and Tom Walton, both characters in this play are initially connected by their realisation that they are beings watched or monitored. The titular Lucy is taunted by incessant phone calls, which go unanswered to begin with, and in a more surreal display, Walton’s Elliot is followed and watched by birds.
Both actors in this production are remarkable considering the immense physical and vocal performances required of them. The play’s unique structure and use of sound and stage props is challenging to the performers and audience alike. Each scene, apart from the play’s conclusion, only allows for one actor on stage at a time; this actor never speaking their own lines but instead being narrated exclusively by their performance partner off stage. After each small scene, the actors also change and rearrange the set, consisting of three small and misshapen tables and a small selection of props such as a chalkboard and an array of telephones.
The combination of set, props and sound effects (also made by the off-stage actor, designed in collaboration with Nick Williams) transforms the stage space effectively into a park, workshop, tent, shower, bus stop and rocky hill top, suggesting the versatility of the play’s writing as well as its performers’. Walton’s acting in particular was striking for its commitment to his imagined surroundings, causing concern for his welfare at times when jumping from table to table, sometimes toppling (deliberately) from a standing height on top of the set design where he could easily touch the lighting riggings. The choreography and movement direction of Geoff Hopson effectively evoked and exaggerated the growing angst of Walton’s character as he came closer to meeting the birds.
This original play is quirky to say the least; choice scenes include Elliot opening dozens of books to find brightly coloured feathers falling out of them, and a fantastic performance from Moffatt as Lucy as she acts out a gang shooting, with slow motion effects thrown in. It may not suit everyone’s theatrical taste, but it’s a highly original approach to narration and techniques employed in setting the stage making for an interesting show.
The editorial unit
Lucy and the Hawk is playing at Ovalhouse Upstairs until 27th October, Tues-Sat 8pm.
For more information on the show, click here.