Uplifting, by Alan Moorhouse

Friday, 20 August, 2010

Light, comedy debut play

London – Lost Theatre – 16th – 18th Aug 2010 – 20:15 (50mins)

In Uplifting, decidedly average salesman Bill (Alan Moorhouse) completely ruins an important presentation due to being distracted by a hapless window cleaner outside. He then happens to get stuck in a lift with the very same window cleaner, Jim (Brian Gillett). The two men come to learn more about each other than they bargained for and, perhaps most importantly, that the view from the top floor looks very different to each man.

The two actors give commendable performances, relaying a whole host of characters and a range of emotions. Alan Moorhouse’s sympathetic portrayal of the hapless Bill exposes the loneliness of modern life while Brian Gillet’s likeable performance of Jim shows that confidence doesn’t always come from a corporate pay check. Both actors depict the boredom and frustrations they feel at life (but blame on the broken lift) realistically but their efforts are let down slightly by the direction, also by Alan Moorhouse, which at times seems rather aimless. It might have been more engaging to see more of their futile attempts to physically cope with sharing such a small space with a stranger – something both London and Edinburgh audiences can readily identify with.

Pete Reynolds & Will Dredge have designed an incredibly economical production; on a bare stage the lift is represented by a box of white light which the actors step in and out of as the action moves from present to past. The music punctuates each scene well demonstrating passages of time and changes in tone but the use of blackouts between scenes significantly slowed down the already meagre amounts of action. Also it wasn’t clear why the character of Bill carries a small suitcase and a mobile yet both actors mime an emergency phone in the lift.

The play offered us the chance to spend some time with two men who live life very differently and it was, for the most part, entertaining and amusing. Unfortunately, the script relied too heavily on the use of phone calls both to the lift service team and to the mystery Penny who is Bill’s co-worker and secret desire. Whilst there are a few sweet moments where we see the men bond over their situation there are also a few frustrating moments when the characters discuss their most intimate fears far too easily making it less believable and less engaging. Writer Alan Moorhouse has also given the character he plays more of a journey than that of Jim as there is no doubt that Bill leaves the lift a changed man whereas Jim just lazily listens in on Bill’s final phone call then follows him out.

Whilst there is no doubt the writer has an ear for comic dialogue he might benefit from looking again at his story telling as ultimately this interesting clash of personalities ends up deriving into little more than convenient cliché. Perhaps if the two men – who seemed to represent two sides of the modern man – had been interrogated further by Moorhouse and we had seen real conflict emerge from the comedy then this little tale of life’s ups and downs might have been more satisfying.

Overall though it was an enjoyable debut from The Atre Company and certainly more fun than being stuck in a lift.

Cast Credits: Performers – Alan Moorhouse – Bill, Brian Gillett – Jim.

Company Credits: Writer – Alan Moorhouse. Director – Alan Moorhouse. Sound & Lighting Design – Pete Reynolds & Will Dredge. Make Up – Jill Hutchins. Producer – Alan Moorhouse. Website – www.the-atre.org

(c) Hannah Rodger 2010

reviewed Monday 16 August 10


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