views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

The One Festival 2016 - Programme C
The Space
12th February 2016


We all see the world in different ways, and in Programme C of The One Festival, a collection of five monologues offers alternative perspectives. From the big issues to first world problems (a phrase I can't utter without picturing a hashtag which is a first world problem in itself), Programme C makes us reconsider our views. Is our take on it all the only valid one? How do others perceive things?

Promotional image for Drone

Photography supplied by Justin Marosa

The highlight is without a doubt Tom Jensen's deliciously ambiguous Drone. Look at Matt (Justin Marosa) and what do you see? Someone who's been attacked by some shady top secret government organisation or a sick man in a wheelchair suffering from paranoid delusions? What does your conclusion say about you, eh?

The entire monologue feels like some kind of Rorschach Test and if you don't immediately make that connection yourself, director Stuart Black reinforces it by projecting a series of ink blots on the back wall. They slowly change, like idle thoughts, their possible meanings ever-evolving. A low-pitched humming noise in the background is a constant irritant, and the combination of the sinister soundscape and projected imagery truly do help open up this piece to so many different and yet equally plausible interpretations. As for Marosa, he gives a solid performance, his eyes constantly darting back and forth and his frequent movements underlining his character's extreme agitation.

Far calmer than Matt is the protagonist (Tim Blackwell) in The Last Testament of an Unremarkable Man. Director Danielle McIlven deliberately keeps Blackwell's tone unvaried, his manner always annoyingly chirpy and even and it's so easy to lose interest in what he's saying. It's insipid small talk, Blackwell's character is merely killing time due to being early for his appointment. The real impact comes not during the monologue itself but afterwards when you realise how little attention you've paid to someone's last words and how horribly bleak that is. We all instinctively feel like we have the right to be remembered, no matter how unremarkable we might be. The Last Testament of an Unremarkable Man is a slow burner, however it does leave you pondering some uncomfortable questions.

Promotional image for The One Festival 2016

Photography supplied by The Space

Wanting to be remembered, in Her, a young woman (Dani Arlington) obsessed with social media makes the decision to slip away from her online life and then struggles with that withdrawal process. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to take a selfie in front of it and upload it to Instagram, does it make a sound? The idea that we overshare online is one that we've seen Arlington previously explore in comedy Alice Springs, however here playwright and director Tom Harvey solely focuses on the emotional impact of trying to take back control.

Lightening the mood, Josephine Butler performs in Little Fluffy Clouds, a short monologue she's written about a woman preparing for a dinner party. You'll either find this middle-class character wonderfully charming or want to hit her with a Le Creuset pan (much in the same way Nigella Lawson splits opinion). The woman frequently leans towards us and gesticulates wildly, with director Paloma Oakenfold encouraging a conspiratorial bond between her and the audience. Fluffy in name and fluffy in nature, it's another throwaway piece, but admittedly one which does provide some comic relief.

Closing the programme, Jemima Foxtrot and Lucy Allan have co-written Melody, a quirky blend of spoken word and songs performed by Foxtrot. Out of all the senses, it's sound which resonates most strongly for our protagonist and the world becomes a melting pot of old songs and even advert jingles. At times, Melody does feel overlong, however we forgive this due to its experimental nature and some clever directorial choices by Allan, such as the live subtitling.

Programme C is an interesting assortment of new writing, some pieces slicker than others, but all earning their right to be in the festival.

The One Festival opened on 10th February and runs until 21st February. Programme C opened on 12th February, and next runs on 17th and 20th February 2016.

Nearest tube station: Mudchute (DLR)

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