Camden Fringe Festival 2017: Secrets at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre
Anthology performances are tricky propositions, inviting the audience to pick and choose a favourite, or simply clock out if a piece fails to capture their interest. Secrets, premiering at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre for the Camden Fringe, is a moving, sometimes uneven blend of four chapters, held together by some deft performances.
In four scenes, each depicting a different secret, we witness the various stages of secret-keeping: attempts to reveal damage that’s been done, resolution once one has been shared, or threats that suppress the urge to share. The relatively brief running time of each set piece demands each performer to juggle a broad spectrum of tones within the mere space of minutes, and while not all are equally successful, there is never a dull moment.
In Only Professionally, casting director and aspiring actress spar over the demand for nudity in a potentially exploitative role, inviting a wider discussion on consent. In It Was Funny the First Time, a prisoner recounts from his cell a story of obsession and murder – from within a weekly book club. In Just How It Is, a shifting power play takes place between a coolly controlled upstart and an older MP, as the paradigm of their S&M relationship takes on very real implications. And in Mote In Your Eye, a young recruitment consultant reflects on a cringe-worthy work retreat, and her troubled relationship with her father, in what, for this reviewer, was the most moving piece of the evening.
In each chapter, the characters conceal or obfuscate the truth from themselves and the audience – we see the twitching pause after a lie has been told, or the too-long silence once it’s been revealed. Just How It is and Mote In Your Eye are particularly moving, with staggeringly good performances from Parys Jordan and Sian Eleanor Green. Their quiet indignation and subtle reserves of strength win us over, underscoring the immediate and long-term impact of secrets respectively. As Green flits effortlessly between the wry humour of the workplace team bonding exercise and tale of familial abuse, the audience breathe a collective cathartic sigh once her bruising monologue had been delivered. A darkly entertaining and brilliantly performed night.
Photo: Secret Hour Theatre / Twitter
Secrets was at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre on 8th August 2017.
For further information about Camden Fringe Festival 2017 visit the website here.