That Moment

Thu 3rd – Mon 28th August 2017

reviews

Kiya Evans

at 09:04 on 7th Aug 2017

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It’s not very often that you walk out of a theatre feeling completely exhilarated and awed by what you’ve just experienced, wondering how on earth that hour went so quickly. Dougie Blaxland’s That Moment is one of those shows. We are swept up into the world of Alicia Harding, a 20-something drama school graduate whose tendency to dig herself holes lands her with what she quickly realises is not her big break - looking after a big-shot director's nightmare of a dog. Facing such questions as, ‘How far would you go to achieve your dream?’, ‘Should you bite your tongue or speak your mind?’, and the dreaded “What’ve you been up to lately?”, Harding’s trials and tribulations become ours, and it is impossible to not be in her corner from the opening. Cliché as this premise may sound, Blaxland’s ingeniously witty writing ensures that the piece is anything but.

Harding’s simultaneously optimistic and hopeless nature is perfectly and electrifyingly portrayed by Madeleine Gray, whose praises were being sung by several audience members following the show’s conclusion - and rightly so. Truly gifted, not only is she able to command the attention of an audience in the most mesmerising way, but Gray possesses the ability to seamlessly and effortlessly shift between 18 different characters, brilliantly distinguishing each one and providing an insight into Harding’s perception of the stage industry. Despite the well trodden plot premise of a ‘struggling artist’, at no point did this feel self-indulgent or pitying. Rather, the piece provides an honest and candid observation of the industry, breathing fresh life into what is a heavily saturated topic.

The general atmosphere of theatre was one of ease. Harding came across as a diary comes to life, animated with the energy of sharing her stories. Her jokes and physicalisation elicited raucous laughter from the diverse audience, assuring me that the humour can be accessed by many different age groups and those with varying life experiences to what was being seen. The show was consistently a joy to behold, and it baffles me that such high energy levels could be maintained by one woman for such a length of time. Blaxland’s characters feel genuine and distinct, and will make you roar with laughter. That Moment is, at once, heartfelt and hilarious.

A late slot in an overly warm and small theatre, what the show lacks in size and air conditioning it makes up for in pure joy, humour, and talent. That Moment is a triumph on all fronts - the writing is hilarious and relatable, Gray is exhilirating and uplifting - even the use of lighting helps to sustain engagement and ought to be commended for what it adds to the production. The combination of these factors results in a show which is astoundingly well-paced and engaging - I could not tear my eyes away.

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Charlotte Lock

at 09:29 on 7th Aug 2017

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Upon watching ‘That Moment’, written by Dougie Blaxland, I was transported to the living room of a twenty-something struggling thespian, whilst all the while feeling I was conversing with an old friend. The beauty of this performance was in its seeming effortlessness. Madeleine Gray, the effervescent actress in this one woman show, immediately placed the entire audience completely at ease.

Gray took on the role of Alicia Harding who begins her tale dog sitting for Titus, the aged, rotund and unsurprisingly sickly dog of a celebrated director, with a particular taste for jam doughnuts. Gray’s astonishing skill was demonstrated through her versatility, revealing almost twenty different characters through her own depiction of them. Frankly, it was as if there was a sizeable cast involved, with her portrayals of these characters presenting a strong visual image on the blank stage as she briefly became her egotistical and unempathetic drama school friend, and her condescending and self-seeking agent, Penny, whose high-pitched squeal I swear still echoes in my ears. Each character was particularly memorable as they were given a distinctive pose with which we could associate them. Perhaps most impressive was the speed at which Gray could switch between roles, a skill demonstrated in the finale where at least six different characters conversed at the climax of the production – an impressive feat, particularly given that each had a distinctive accent. The shifts between present day and anecdotal portrayals were faultlessly reinforced by stage lighting changes, subtly altering the tone of certain scenes and the focus of the audience, greatly enhancing the overall success of the production. One interesting aspect of the production, however, was its use of the classic ‘he said’/’she said’ narrational style, making the account feel surprisingly like a novel, and distinctly conversational and familiar.

Blaxland’s writing did not only resonant remarkably, but was genuinely amusing - a good old-fashioned, laugh out loud comedy. The hilarity of this show came in all shapes and sizes: from recounts of experiences, to present day realisations that she has dug herself a hole from which there is no obvious escape. However, much of the humour is provided by Gray’s asides to the audience, as she voices the exclamations that we all wish we could shout following infuriating experiences with certain individuals, before using the repeated one-liner ‘But I didn’t say that, of course’. Here Gray becomes every individual’s aspiration, daring to say what we feel is socially unacceptable, and it is this insight into her head which makes each of us feel less alone in our inner sarcastic comments. We leave the show with a little more confidence and being a touch more audacious, daring to say what we previously may not. This production is bursting with youthful life, sarcastic asides and flawless comic timing, made all the better by Gray’s performance being beautifully at ease whilst astoundingly realistic.

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