The Land of Lost Content at Pleasance Theatre
After Covid cancelled the Vault Festival for a second year running, London’s Pleasance Theatre is one venue taking part in a transfer season. First up is The Land of Lost Content, written by and starring Henry Madd. The actor is joined by Darragh Hand in this engaging two-hander.
Henry (Madd) and Jake (Hand) grew up in a small rural town named Dulowl, forging a friendship not without its ups and downs. Finding solace from the boredom of their surroundings in alcohol, it’s not long before things spiral out of control, resulting in Henry moving away. Reunited, the two examine their personal failures and the reasons behind their actions.
As one enters the downstairs space at the theatre, Hand is found seated crosslegged on the floor, rocking back and forth. It encourages an immediate sense of interest from the audience, who are automatically intrigued about this person and their story.
The two young performers captivate and compel throughout, with the small studio space inviting viewers into their world. Donald Marshall’s set is simple, with a blanket of foam dominating the small floor space. It is perhaps indicative of the fragility at the heart of this friendship. Munotida Chinyanga’s delicate sound design adds to the atmosphere, along with Matthew Swithinbank’s carefully considered lighting. There’s a real sense that the creative team, headed by director Nic Connaughton, truly believe in the project.
The play feels fresh and contemporary with colloquial dialogue seamlessly blending with lyrical, poetic prose. It makes for a pacy production that constantly keeps the audience on their toes. We never quite know where the play will go next. Enhancing things further is the effortless chemistry enjoyed by Madd and Hand. One genuinely believes in their relationship, the authenticity of the writing and performances allowing for quick investment in these characters.
Despite its heavy subject matter, including alcoholism and drug addiction, references to suicide and domestic abuse, the play never veers towards the dreary. There is joy to be found here, the audience departing with the knowledge they have experienced something refreshingly innovative.
This is a show that needs to be seen and, thanks to the efforts of various venues along with the Vault Festival team, this unique piece of theatre has been allowed to be showcased. The performers undoubtedly have bright futures ahead, with Madd being a new writer to watch.
The Land of Lost Content is at Pleasance Theatre from 10th February until 12th February 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.