Abandon at the Lyric Hammersmith
It is always exciting to see new productions, especially when a gang of budding actors is involved. Abandon, the fruits of youth theatre company Lyric Ensemble’s labour, promises an evening’s exploration into the creatively chaotic minds of the 15 youngsters setting their foot on stage. But as the first scenes roll on, maintaining a rather shallow line, a sense of disappointment begins to arise.
A group of aspiring London actors meets regularly in a rehearsal room. The show consists of a series of episodes, happening before the sessions start, from the performers’ ordinary lives. Boys and girls share their news, discuss adolescent worries, celebrate their successes. In small bunches of two, three or four, they exchange short dialogues in a continuous coming and going, as events see them mingling and then parting.
Sudden blackouts separate the different sketches, pacing the performance according to a precise alternation of light and darkness, with enjoyable music in the background. These periods of shade, however, feel far longer than the actual acting moments. They leave the audience wondering whether the pauses are actually needed to set the scene – although the props are limited and no scenography is mounted – or if there is a rather unintelligible reason behind them.
The play is staged in the brand new Reuben Foundation Wing, which provides a pleasing warmth to the setting, with the orange wooden walls. The actors know how to dance and their smooth movements around the space are tremendous. However, it would be great to see more of this.
Indeed, although the cast bursts with energy, it is a pity to be able to witness their effervescence only in the last ten minutes and for tiny sparks throughout the production. The major problem is identifiable in the script: a rather restrictive shallow view of the wonderful, creative world behind these minds. Aggravated by an overall mismatch of the title and blurb with the actual show, the resulting narrative is rather flat. The scenes are not really connected, without a perceivable common thread, save for a sequence of stereotyped depictions of young people.
Without having to dive deep into psychological or conceptual portrayals, Abandon could have spent less prolonged time in darkness and given more space to the lively spirits of its protagonists, which unfortunately come out only in the final part.
Photo: Dan Patrick Hipkin
Abandon is at the Lyric Hammersmith from 20th June until 30th June 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Abandon here: