LIVES IN A LUNCHTIME
Having swerved going to the Edinburgh Fringe this year (costs, personal issues, exhaustion , don’t ask) I felt I was owed some hour-long daytime sessions listening to monologues by people I’ve never heard of, on hard chairs in black-draped scruffy studios. Gotta keep that muscle going. Also, my generation can remember the Almost Free Theatre just off Trafalgar Square, and its lunchtime experimental performances, whether inspired or dire. So with some glee I signed up for 70 minutes above the ARts, to see three short plays by Ken Jaworowski , a staffer on the New York Times . Directed by Alex Dmitriev, the three players are Alistair Brown, Daniel Simpson, and Nadia Shash. And as I have indicated, I expected no great pleasure.
Wrong! The hour was an absolute delight: literate, subtle, humane, insightful and touching, the use of antiphonal monologues building pictures of the real pains and banalities of life, turning-points and absent characters, pain and progress. The first, Pulse, is an exploration of fatherhood: Brown as a nervy, resentful gay man astonished by the reaction of his ex-Marine, fiercely religious father; Simpson powerful and convincing as a father who tries to protect his bullied small son by teaching him boxing moves, with disastrous results; Shash as the daughter-carer of a father trying to let her go.
The second, One to the Head, one to the Heart, shows Simpson and Shash as parents of a seriously disabled child, he a tough guy struggling with shame at his “defective” offspring, she producing a funny and touching twist; and the third, The Truth Tellers, less serious, is a charming miniature rom-com, funny and sharp about the singleton world, with Shash and Brown failing – for a while – to get it on. Oh, and despite Jarworowski’s background, he first and last are British characterizations; the middle one American. A proper lunchtime treat. Non-fattening, too.
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