EFR - Reviews of How My Light Is Spent

How My Light Is Spent

Fri 3rd – Sat 18th August 2018

reviews

Megan Luesley

at 00:44 on 7th Aug 2018

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I wasn’t sure what I expected from this show, a two-hand comedy about a relationship between a doughnut restaurant employee and an adult sex line worker. It starts strange and veers into the surreal about a third of the way through. But expectations aside, what I got was a funny and touching fairy tale story about purpose, belonging and the power of human connection.

The aforementioned employee is Jimmy (Harry Redding), and the show opens with him telling sex line worker Kitty (Anna Wright) that he’s literally turning invisible. Redding and Wright instantly established a relationship of quick-fire quips, and this carries on for the whole production as they create every character in the play: from Jimmy’s Salvation Army mother Rita to military man turned doughnut boss Peak. Setting the play in Newport, the two make a quirky cast that perform the main story. They’re hugely versatile performers, switching from semi-narrators to sympathetic characters to exaggerated caricatures on the fly.

However, the core of the play is the awkwardly blossoming relationship between Jimmy and Kitty. It’s about as atypical as they get, but the play, written by Alan Harris, develops it endearingly. The jokes come quick and fast, even in the narration, such as when a car park is described as being “black as a hedge fund manager’s heart”. But the tender romance between two people who’ve both ended up in undesirable places in their lives keeps a heartfelt focus that the comedy only enhances, rather than distracting from it.

It all takes a swerve into fantasy when Jimmy starts disappearing, but in this show’s eccentric world, it doesn’t feel jarring or out of place. It’s difficult to discuss the direction the show heads in without spoiling it, but it becomes something of an atypical fairy tale. It’s not necessarily a piece with a moral message but it’s heartfelt and striking nonetheless.

Technically, 'How My Light is Spent' isn’t particularly showy, and the set is fairly simple. The lighting and sound was occasionally unnecessary: ten seconds of flashing disco-style lights for one conversation felt pointless and music sometimes distracted from the show. But the simplicity of this show really shines, and all elements (including the tech, courtesy of Susi Mauer) combined for a simply stunning conclusion.

‘How My Light Is Spent’ doesn’t come loaded with whistles and bells, but with sharp wit, two charismatic performances, a touch of whimsy and a whole lot of heart, it’s a show that’s worth your attention.

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Kathryn Tann

at 13:10 on 7th Aug 2018

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‘How My Light is Spent’ began without introduction or explanation, but it captured my attention. I was thrown into a story and a set of characters I was yet to understand, but there was a comfortable assumption that I soon would. When two performers fill a small space with the intensity of their gaze, an audience can be easily absorbed.

The very first notes I jotted down were the words ‘slick’ and ‘witty’. Bouncing flawlessly between one another, between dialogue and narration, and between multiple roles, both Anna Wright (Kitty) and Harry Redding (Jimmy) spoke their lines like a fine-tuned acrobatic performance. The particular decision to have them finishing each other’s sentences was handled in a way that made it far from distracting – though this style has so often been the downfall of a script before.

Set in Newport, South Wales, ‘How My Light is Spent’ unfurls for us the strange, yet simultaneously quite ordinary story of a man who is slowly becoming invisible. Redding performs the role with well-developed characterisation, fitting in brilliant little awkward mannerisms. The only shame is that his bright pink cap often shaded Redding’s expressions under the lights. Wright’s characterisation of Kitty drew only slightly fewer chuckles from the audience, but was just as strong. Her unblinking confidence and occasional admirable attempt at the urban South Welsh accent should be commended, and the professionalism of both could be seen in the seamlessness of their interactions.

Director Aaron Kilercioglu should also be commended for his highly economic use of small and simple staging. Each change of location was calculated in a way that two boxes were enough to signify our transportation, just as each character change was made crystal clear by, say, a pair of glasses or a mug.

By the end of the hour-long piece, I did feel a slight dissatisfaction with the storyline. Certain threads felt loose, and the ending, though poetic, seemed uncertain. I did, however, enjoy the realisation that the pair were touching for the first time only in the final moment. Though the overarching message may have been unclear, the strength of this piece was in it’s seamlessness. There is a calm simplicity to the ‘How My Light is Spent’, so that whilst it would never be one to amaze, it will always be one to enjoy.

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