list.co.uk/festival Reviews | FESTIVAL THEATRE
P H O T O :
M C H E L L E W O R M L E G H T O N
THE LOUNGE A gentle comedy about waiting to die ●●●●●
ONE DAY MOKO Homeless man’s experiences condensed ●●●●● LUCY, LUCY AND LUCY BARFIELD Bittersweet tribute to treasured muse ●●●●●
In a dingy care home somewhere off the A1, a 97-year-old woman narrates her last day. She performs her last actions, some of them real, some taking place in her mind, sometimes interacting with the daytime television personalities that soundtrack her life. But as her day progresses, the characters in the home become embroiled in a fantastic plot that takes off from mundane beginnings to reach surreal heights.
Inspector Sands’ darkly comic production sees three actors switching comfortably between playing staff and patients. It might not immediately seem to set the scene for comedy, but the play nimbly toes the line between tragedy and humour with sensitivity and warmth.
The action is timed to perfection – a resentful glance here, a mumbled repetition there, reminding the audience fondly of elderly relatives and their idiosyncrasies.
There are moments of poignancy – to be
expected considering the subject matter – and these simply highlight the message of the play: to examine with compassion and warmth how loved ones spend their final days. (Jessica Rodgers) ■ Summerhall, 560 1581, until 27 Aug, 3.25pm, £15 (£12).
Tim Carlsen’s one-man show takes inspiration both from clowning and the lives of the homeless: in One Day Moko, he presents a series of episodes, games and stories that span Moko’s daily routines, challenges and enthusiasms. Chatting to the audience from the start, and carefully avoiding pan- handling clichés, he attempts to create a character more unfamiliar than the typical tales of anguish. Lucy Grace was 26 when she had an epiphany on the edge of Brockwell Lido and realised that Narnia didn’t exist. From the age of ten she had believed that not only was she connected to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’s central character Lucy Pevensie by virtue of name-sharing, but that she was one day destined to head through a portal and discover CS Lewis’ fantasy land.
Unfortunately, the uneven structure of the piece Her revelation, and its knock-on existential crisis,
undermines its focus. Moko’s lies give way to a serialised story about a couple in the throes of relationship turmoil. It’s never quite clear what their relationship to Moko might be, and the sudden shift in tone from street survival to middle-class anguish detracts from the depiction of Moko’s life. Since Moko is based on Carlsen’s own experiences with homeless people, there are telling details: the relationship with the police and local fast food vendors reveal a man claiming his dignity. Yet Moko’s character is obscured by the meandering episodes. Finally, when Carlsen admits that he finds endings hard, it is difficult to know whether he is speaking in character or observing a weakness in this play. (Gareth K Vile) ■ Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 29 Aug (not 22), 3.45pm, £12.50–£13.50 (£10.50–£11.50).
led her to a new quest to fill the imaginative void vacated by Narnia. The resulting show tracks her progress as she goes in search instead of the real Lucy Barfield, to whom Lewis dedicated his book.
Lucy Barfield, however, is something of a mystery, one which deepens the more Grace learns about her. At heart, this quiet, velvet-gloved punch of a piece unfolds into a meditation on the nature of fantasy versus reality and the power of imaginary landscapes to broaden, enrich and become part of our lived existence. Grace’s delivery brims with effusive energy, and despite the gut-wrenching curveballs her journey throws at her, there is a bittersweet triumph in finally honouring one of children’s fiction’s most treasured muses. (Lucy Ribchester) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug (not 22), 3.30pm, £7.50–£10 (£6.50–£9).
MOUSE – THE PERSISTENCE OF AN UNLIKELY THOUGHT Daniel Kitson triumphs again, to devastating effect ●●●●●
Ever since his first forays into drama, Daniel Kitson has consistently shown that he has one of the most exciting minds in British theatre. During one of the interludes in Mouse, the award- winning performer – still better known to many for his stand-up – remarks that he ought to tailor his ambitions to his ability: yet it is the match of his skills and the structure of the play that makes it such a remarkable journey. Kitson’s familiar themes are all present. The protagonist is a lonely, aging man who longs for more, and struggles with creativity. The fourth wall is regularly broken, and Kitson becomes himself, explaining the background to the plot and chatting amiably with the audience. There’s the gradual revelation of tragedy, the use of familiar tropes and the self- deprecating humour. It is a mark of his talent that he reworks these themes into something startling and emotive.
The plot is simple. A man receives a phone call, supposedly a wrong number. He spends the night chatting to the stranger, sharing intimate details. There is a moment of revelation, which the audience works out long before the character in a moment of dramatic irony.
Whether Kitson is merely exercising a midlife male crisis or hinting at the deeper pain of the human condition, his apparently ramshackle presence hides a serious awareness of the stage’s potential to probe emotional anguish.
The show’s Edinburgh run is sold out, so too few people will experience the magic of Mouse. Compassionate, funny, charming and bracing, it showcases Kitson’s genius without ever letting it get in the way of the story or melancholic message. (Gareth K Vile) ■ Traverse, 228 1404, until 28 Aug (not 22), 10pm, £12. Sold out.
18–29 Aug 2016 THE LIST FESTIVAL 77
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