One Festival – Programme A at the Space
The One Festival returns to East London’s the Space for the final time. Four programmes of fresh new writing take to the stage, each performed by a solitary actor.
Tonight’s programme begins with Treasure, written and directed by Laura Kaye Thomson, and portrayed by Jennifer Greenwood. Alex, who recently lost her mother, has been left a key to her shed, in which she tries to piece the story together. The script is written in a humorous and authentic fashion, presenting Alex as an eclectic and caring daughter who misses her mother dearly. Its poignancy of the difficulties of mental health issues is done with precision, as Alex is left alone. The minimalist stage set-up is charming, with a poster of Janice Joplin (her mother’s favourite musician) potted plants and childhood toys. Greenwood attempts to play the keyboard, remembering her mother singing, showing quick frustration. It’s a story beautifully told, as we see her internal struggles; she laments, “They say suicide is like a grieving with the volume turned up”. The play fluctuates in tone, keeping the emotions genuine, as we see the highs and lows through Alex’s memories and feelings.
Next up is Janice Hallett’s Meeting Roman Polanski, a short and sweet tale of one fan’s preoccupation with the infamous director. It stands relevant to today with the rife accusations amongst some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The humour is instant from Jessica White’s facial expressions, maintaining the intrigue of her imminent meeting with her hero. The script references Polanski’s films Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby, providing context. It harnesses the conflicts we experience when the admiration we have for artists is overshadowed by the dreadful acts they commit. We feel both sympathy for the filmmaker – experiencing terror in Nazi-occupied Poland, and then losing his wife Sharon Tate and unborn child to the Charles Manson murders – as he “has taken pain, loss and suffering and turned it into something good, but also an undeniable contempt, due to his involvement with an underage girl. Hallett’s comic writing befits White’s acting, and challenges our perceptions and admiration of those in the highest levels of powerful stardom.
Arguably the funniest show of the festival, Inside Alan is a hilarious insight into the celebrity obsession of none other than television gardening personality Alan Titchmarsh. The randomness of the introductory statement – “Hello, my name is Malcolm Collins and I’m a stalker!” – produces hysterics amongst the audience. Malcolm (Mitch Day) is simultaneously exuberant and vulnerable, having lost both parents in a car accident. The script doesn’t sit heavily on the sadness of the tragedy, yet immerses in Malcolm’s break in at Titchmarsh’s house, with delightfully lewd one-liners aplenty, such as “I was on all fours, searching for pubes”. Day’s script bursts with humour, but also holds a beguiling sadness, as we see Malcolm deal with the loss of his parents.
The shortest piece of the set, A Sweet Life by Guleraana Mir, is the transformation of human Kelly (Alice Langrish) into a puppy. Though brief, it is filled with a silliness that is not altogether unlikely, as there are real life accounts of people turning themselves into animals, making it an absurd but entertaining performance.
Completing Programme A is Mike Carter’s quirky suburban escapade A Mighty Oak Conqueror. Brian (Thomas Michael Blyth) from St Albans has succeeded in climbing the tallest tree in the woods, teetering amongst the makeshift boxes and a plank of wood. Attempting to revisit his childhood with the same wide-eyed innocence and bravado, his adult common sense soon kicks in. Brian’s digressions range from nature to environmental politics. The concept is simple enough, the piece embraces the complexities of adulthood, responsibilities and the state of society, making one desire to visit childhood, a far-away land in time.
One Festival 2018 brings together a riveting collection of bold new writing from some of the most unique voices in today’s theatre, performed by equally bright and first-rate actors.
One Festival – Programme A is at the Space from 9th until 27th January 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
For further information about One Festival and the other Programmes visit the Space’s website here.