Lost Theatre is small, but perfectly formed, tucked round a corner behind one of those gyms with windows to the street. The performance I was going to was a less sweaty one: taster acts of the Face to Face festival, a celebration of one-person theatre. On the way into the auditorium, posters for unexpectedly high profile past acts such as Russell Howard and Jack Whitehall line the walls. The draw for them is clear; the stage – jutting slightly out into the audience – is ideal for a solo performer; in fact, there is not a bad seat in the house.
The series opened with performers sitting amongst the audience, sharing a monologue. This was a single character: a young, unloved child without the capacity to understand or communicate its emotions. This is a terrific concept, although all the craning of necks in order to see the different actors means it could lead to a light injury or two. 3/5
The next piece, another nice idea, just missed the mark. A woman with a split personality, one half presented to the world, the other the hidden part of her psyche. The first was an American anxiously coming up to her 50s and overcompensating with enthusiasm and immaturity; the other was the more honest side she was afraid of, delivered, oddly, in an English accent. The use of the (slightly dodgy) American accent to denote fakery, and the English one to illustrate emotional honesty felt a bit shallow to me although redeemed by moments of humour and sadness and some OK audience interaction and improvisation. 2.5/5
The fourth piece was my favourite by a long shot. Martin Stewart delivered a monologue, playing a middle-aged nerd offered a time to shine with the object of his desire at the office drinks session down the pub. Predictably he messes it up, but the description of this scene rendered the collapse worth it, at least for us. Stewart was charming, honest, hilarious and positively cringemaking. 4/5
Following the spiritual teachings of Betty Crocker, our hostess for the next taster did an excellent job. Her timing was spot on and her relationship with the audience was everything you’d expect from a flirtatious American housewife. The only thing that came close to ruining my evening was finding out that Betty Crocker was a corporate invention! Strath managed to guide me through my distress with the panacea of a few cocktails and cakes, however, and I got through.. 3/5
Busker of the Year 2009, Jamie West, looked the part as he strolled on stage to take his seat at the piano and play a snippet of Peter Hammill’s, The Fall of the House of Usher. Despite his beautiful voice and masterful piano playing, it didn’t feel like a Busker of the Year performance but more as if he didn’t really want to be there. Perhaps he was hampered by the confines of an indoor theatre or of the short time he was given. Whatever, it was still a decent musical finale to a fun evening. 3/5
Review written by Harry Davies.
The Face to Face Festival will be showing at the Lost Theatre from Monday 6th October until Saturday 11th October. For more information on the production, visit here…