Ablutions: an act of washing oneself. A word associated with ceremonial routines, sacred and ritualistic in its nature, how could this possibly relate to the goings on of a small LA Based bar you may ask? Well it does seamlessly. Adapted from Man Booker Prize nominee, Patrick DeWitt‘s novel, Ablutions smartly yet subtly questions whether you can change the cards dealt for yourself in life or not.
Performed by award winning FellSwoop Theatre Company, Ablutions places a microscopic lense on the loveable yet complicated soul of a middle aged bar man with many a demon to confront. A man representative of the daily struggles of all of us as he works all hours of the day to not even make the bare minimum to keep up with the bills/rent/food and travel, Ablutions carves out a sculptor of a protagonist looking to start anew, to better himself in a world that only ever appears to offer disappointment. Confronted daily by a cocktail of colourful customers, let alone unbearable bar staff, who can he turn to? He constantly witnesses many a passer by drown their sorrows, an alchemist of the beverage kind as he supplies them with solutions to their issues, however can’t appear to mend his own life. This hypocrisy follows him throughout the production, and makes Ablutions a very engaging watch,
Split into a series of chapters, Eoin Slattery‘s Tom Hanks-esque protagonist continually finds himself battling his foe of loss in some form or another, whether it be the loss of a relationship, as the play sees him finalise the divorce from his wife, to the loss of the bar’s manager, an enigmatic figure never depicted on stage, and if anything never truly appears to care much for the establishment anyway. Fiona Mikel and Harry Humberstone decorate the production with moments of comedy, displaying a mixture of fruitful characters, from a wannabe film star mostly high during his shifts, to a quirky, down to earth aspiring burlesque dancer looking for her lucky break. LA is a place renowned for the weird and the wonderful, a place where the silver screen is king, a place whereby individuals flock to achieve their very own ‘ablution’, to wash away their pasts and carve exciting lives for themselves and all of these undertones make the production compelling. The musical accompaniment elevates the production to another level, an additional voice offering comment to situations or helping a situation reach its full potential. Ben Osborn on the guitar mesmerises, enchants and keeps the audience drawn in from the get go! A heartfelt, honest, lyrical monologue that should not be missed! 4/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Ablutions is currently showing at the Soho Theatre until Sunday 22nd February. For more information on the production, visit here…