The Lost Souls of Soho

Friday, 1 October, 2010

Kensal Green Cemetery - not your usual venue

Alive and Kicking

Intervention Gallery, Kensal Green Cemetery. 30 September 2010, 7.30 (2hrs 30min, inc 15 min interval)

The Intervention Gallery really is in Kensal Green Cemetery. It was in fact the Anglican chapel, and it’s right in the midst of that amazing area which is, largely, a vast memorial to the Victorian cult of the dead. So maybe it’s appropriate that the Lost Souls of Soho should be gathered here? Co-producers Ziella Bryars and Charlotte Coy have certainly found an atmospheric venue for their show, but it must be a difficult one to act in. There is a soaring roof space in this old chapel (now under restoration by English Heritage) and not too much scope for lighting or other electrically-driven subtleties. But somehow, even though occasionally an actor’s voice got lost, the limitations of the venue made the evening more atmospheric rather than less.

Walking down an avenue between the graves, lit by electric candles in paper bags already sets up a lot of expectation and the chapel itself, its portico glowing in the night, hardly looks as though it should be here, in this strange, elevated space overlooking the city.

Lost Souls was actually eight pieces – seven one-actor short plays and one piece of music, On Frith Street, sung by Orlanda Bryars. The plays were all by new writers, and were focused on some of the characters of Soho and their individual tales. We have a Welsh girl led astray by a gay serial con-artist, a girl who has sown the seeds of corruption into a singular friendship, an Irish girl who has perhaps had too much to drink and is hearing banjos. There is a sad girl from Scuthorpe whose self-deception keeps her thinking that working in the Soho KFC somehow keeps her in touch with celebrity cool, a man who is trying to reconnect with life after casually raping his niece, and another whose dream is that metaphysical magic may allow him to escape from his own particular family tragedy.

The stand-out performance was probably by Trudie Goodwin as the confused widow in Richard Ommanney’s Silver Place Porcini, whose bravery borders on nobility, and stems from nothing more than a confused and probably trivial life. Jolyon Coy deserves a mention too as the twitchiest of married men in A Room on Greek Street.

The most satisfying overall was probably Diadem Court by Chris Brandon, with Hannah James catching all the nuances of a larger than life character. All of the actors here though perform with a lot of style and energy, and there is a lot of comedy as well as depth about all of the pieces.

Sometimes, they may have veered a little too far toward the gothic or the unimaginable, but the simplicity of production, the performances and the very special venue all conspire to lift them and to make this evening feel quite unique.

The pieces performed were as follows:

Lessons in Walker’s Court by Craig Donaghty. Director – Imogen Felton. Actor – Sue Conlon

Silver Place Porcini by Richard Ommanney. Director – Louisa Rix. Actor – Trudie Goodwin

All’s Golden Square in Love and War by Jolyon Coy. Director – Jolyon Coy. Actor – Charlotte Coy

On Frith Street by Bethan Ellis. Composer – James Cave. Orlanda Bryars – Voice ; Chris Little – Keyboard; Ewan King – violin; Camilla Thornton – viola; Ziella Bryars – cello; James Cave – cello.

Diadem Court by Chris Brandon. Director – Aoife Crehan; Actor – Hannah James

Kingly Street Cool by Lisa Ommanney. Director – Kate Shearman. Actor – Natalie Drew

A Room on Greek Street by Ziella Bryars. Director – Ziella Bryars. Actor – Jolyon Coy

The Life Man of Portland Mews by Tom Mison. Director – Tom Mison. Actor – James Rigby

Producers – Ziella Bryars and Charlotte Coy. Intervention Gallery – Louisa Rix and Sarah Creasey

© Michael Spring 2010

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