Ablutions at the Soho
A dark, modern drama, Bertrand Lesca’s Ablutions uses a minimalistic approach to a maximum effect.
Adapted from the novel by Patrick deWitt, the story’s main character, You (Eoin Slattery), invites you to imagine what it is like to be a bartender in Los Angeles, watching people getting drunk each night, growing accustomed to the same old clients’ drunken antics and horrendous pick-up lines. Eventually, working in a bar gets to You, turning him into a drunk, with a damaged liver, deteriorating marriage, and fading morals. All that You can do is try to make an escape from this vicious underworld.
The director’s decision to have a completely empty stage with no props is an approach that pays off, as it leaves the actors to fully showcase their abilities. Apart from Eoin Slattery, who is great as the bartender, Fiona Mikel and Harry Humberstone also act in the play as all of the respective female and male characters throughout. The only other person on stage is musician Ben Osborn, who is also the musical director of Ablutions. These actors have been given an opportunity to shine – never leaving the stage and quickly shifting from one role to another – and they do this to perfection. With spot-on American accents and hilarious expressions, Mikel and Humberstone provide comic relief to a story that might otherwise be too dark, too sad and too depressing.
With a 60-minute running time, Ablutions does not drag at all; it cannot afford it. Yet it manages to cover a lot of fast-paced scenes, following the bartender at his work, at home, on a road trip, at the Grand Canyon, at numerous petrol stations and in a shop. However, none of these scenes are rushed or out of place. Rather, they follow the well-presented narrative by Slattery’s character. From describing the types of clients he has at the bar to admitting his true feelings for his wife, you can truly sympathise with the bartender, whose life has gone wrong due to everything he could find in a bar.
A drama full of humour that is going to steal quite a few laughs from you, Ablutions is a great alternative for your evening. Very up-to-date in its themes, it is a truly well-acted play, which boasts some gems of performances.
Ablutions is on at Soho Theatre from 10th February until 22nd February 2015, for further information or to book visit here.