Jonah and Otto at the Park
Jonah and Otto is a new play by established playwright Robert Holman,. It’s an exploration of loneliness, loss and masculinity. Park Theatre creates a sparse landscape with bare concrete walls and framed skies forming the backdrop for a simple tale of two men getting to know one another, and in turn, themselves.
The men work well together, with moments of menacing tension between the two, while at other times that tension becomes almost sensual, or at least tender. Both leads are strong, Peter Egan’s warm sultry tones engaging you from the start. His Otto begins the play in vulnerable isolation, but you quickly realise that therein lies his power. He accepts it and does not fear it. It is this that allows him to open up to Jonah, the mischievous confidante that fate has brought into his life.
Alex Waldmann holds his own against Egan as a sometimes immature Jonah, escaping his situation, and perhaps more so escaping himself. He brings an energetic youthfulness to the role, but there is an unpredictability to him. His sudden outbursts and the way he awkwardly rushes through what might have been poignant moments depict a man who is at odds with himself. Through the play he seems to find peace in the solace offered to him by his newly-discovered, flawed father figure, and in turn the two find peace in themselves. Almost intimating at first, Jonah softens to a sad little boy, but ends the play as a more confident man, ready to take on his responsibilities and accept his situation. Physically, Waldmann portrays panic and a seizure with authentic realism. They are almost uncomfortable to watch without being able to intervene somehow. From these moments, we see a more sedate, thoughtful and compassionate Jonah emerge.
Director Tim Stark has made good use of levels and the space available. Jonah sometimes sits on the floor like a little boy listening to his father regale him with stories, at other times he is climbing the back walls, again with childlike intrigue. In other moments they huddle together, sharing anecdotes of past conquests like naughty schoolboys. He allows the focus to remain on the two men; their expedition of exploration, both of themselves and one another, provide ample imaginative landscape requiring no further visual embellishment.
Jonah and Otto is on at Park Theatre until 23rd November 2014, for further information or to book visit here