Loneliness and Other Adventures

Sat 4th – Sat 11th August 2018

reviews

Amy Barrett

at 09:35 on 5th Aug 2018

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Expecting to leave disheartened, Mollie Semple’s Loneliness and other Adventures, was not the bleak story of isolation I’d anticipated upon reading the production’s title. Instead, I left the theatre empowered. Like many women around the world, when I feel lonely, I am in fact not.

Loneliness and other Adventures follows the experiences of four women, as they recount moments of solitude and love throughout their lives. They all confess dark periods in their lives they have laboriously endured, from a year six boyfriend not lasting forever to severe clinical depression. However, all four women end the production with the belief that if you have the love of your friends, you will never be alone.

The stories of the four girls were confessed almost in the manner of a therapy session. In turn, each girl sat on a chair at the front of the stage and recounted her story of love and loneliness in the lead up to female empowerment. Frequently the remaining three girls created a chorus around the actress speaking, though I felt the disclosures were more powerful when told with just the actress speaking onstage. The show’s plot was intimate and successful: the encounters of first loves to last loves were told arbitrarily. While initially this felt disorganised and clumsy, the actresses quickly lured you in to listening to and empathising with their struggles. The narrative was occasionally interjected with voice-over clips from prior conversations about love and being a woman. Although this nicely introduced the upcoming topic, it was unclear where these clips were sourced from which made their use often feel irrelevant and unnecessary.

Overall the performances by all the girls were of a high standard. In particular, the girl who recounted her relationship with clinic depression struck a perfect balance of humour, sincerity and emotion throughout. With that said, I frequently struggled to sympathise with the protagonist, Anna’s, performance. Unlike the other girls who made their performances feel like a genuine stream of consciousness, Anna’s portrayal felt over-rehearsed and thus not a genuine experience of learning she is not alone. My only other criticism is the use of physical theatre: movement had been incorporated from all four actresses when Anna spoke. However, because this was not a constant feature it often felt like a distraction from listening to the speaker; perhaps why Anna’s performance appeared weaker than the other girls.

Whilst the production of Loneliness and other Adventures is not flawless, the script holds great potential. Regardless of the unnecessary physical theatre, and occasionally disingenuous acting, you will leave the theatre comforted by the fact that you are never alone.

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Ella Gryf-Lowczowska

at 10:09 on 5th Aug 2018

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The essence of Loneliness and Other Adventures? Women in existential crises. They have given their love to people, they know they are capable of love; but all of their romantic partners have gotten bored prematurely, then just disappeared.

Loneliness and Other Adventures is a modern day love story. From the moment the audience enters the room the four female cast members can be seen sat motionless on the floor, arms around each other, heads touching. Once the play commences the women take their turns to support the lead, 21 year old Anna, who addresses the audience directly. She monologues about her struggle with the ‘cosmic loneliness’ and the ‘thoughts about the feeling of being lonely’ that pervade her everyday existence. Five minutes later, and Anna is proclaiming the pleasurableness of a solitary 'wank' (in front of a middle aged man in the second row who I think is her father…). Anna’s self-esteem evidently comes in high peaks and very, very deep troughs as she searches outside of herself for someone to love her. After some searching, Anna does eventually find the love she was yearning for, and the source? Herself. Loneliness encapsulates teenage angst with the utmost clarity and accuracy.

As the four actresses recount the romances that coloured their school days, we, the audience, are indulged with hilariously vivid descriptions of their year six kisses and the too-much-tongue snogs that they had at their year ten house parties. The hilarity nicely lightens the tone of the play without making it baseless. As we recover from our laughter one of the actresses monologues about how she struggled with depression and self-harming until her uni friend, Jake, chose to love her romantically, completely and unconditionally. The story seems to be autobiographical, and it is really poignant. The courage that the actresses demonstrate as they recount their stories is really something to be applauded.

One small caveat is that the lack of an overarching plot makes the overall performance notably disjointed; the actresses are constantly talking about different points in time, narratively jumping all over the place, and it is not at all clear how, if at all, the actresses are related to each other. When viewed as a whole the play is like a pool of existential diarrhoea, even though the individual pellets are phenomenally profound. The choreography is also pretty unspectacular. However these shortcomings should be overlooked in light of the sheer rawness of the content. The cast are brutally honest and their sincerity definitely pays off. A tribute to the phenomenon of teenage angst, this play will make you reminisce about your own adventures in the land of adolescent love and loneliness, and it is highly recommended.

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Comments

Penny Jackson; 6th Aug 2018; 14:22:40

I can’t agree with the negativity expressed by both these inexperienced reviewers. The play draws its strength from the powerful performance of the central character. The physical theatre is beautifully pared down to add movement and depth to the monologues. It heightens the humour and expresses the love between the characters both virtual and present.

A brave first work from this promising writer and performer.

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