revew: Mike Kenny – Solace of the Road
Solace of the Road/
dir. Sarah Brigham/
‘additional therapeutic techniques that involve writing may be helpful at particular times’
The set strikes me. because it’s gorgeously lit. Minimally lit. A
series spiral of things I’m not sure what they but turn out to be drawers in their own little rectangular spots and no light an dywhere else. ver fy striking. once the play beings begins I notice a strip of light at the back of the stage, cutting diagonally across on a slight slant which once thing ds get rolling gives the impression of the prow of a boat cutting and swaying through a sea.
[i think of that Fitzgerald line – ‘boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past’/ which does fit into this play/narrative/conceptually rather satisfyingly/ being riddled with trauma and regression/ and most obviously, a journey]
so I think the set
very pretty very sati dsfying, as a piece of big but subtle imagery. don t‘t know who did the set design but I’m a fan of it.
I’ll give another bit on the drawers covering the s
atage – th yeyre different sizes, hold props. And they echo the script – Holly Hogan (our protagonist/narra ctor) isdragging her memories out, in images, scenes, objects, song s.
‘perhaps even just putting words on paper seems to really help’
sis an adaptation, by Kenny, of Siobhan Dowd’s novel of the same name. And a lot of the ntime it feels like that really shows. In the same way when you ahave a narrator in a film adaptation of a novel, there’s a lot of constant description of action whilst it as happening in fornt of you. Initially, I found this a bit grat eing, but through watching the it gradually felt more ad more like it made sense.
t to write off the show, taken as I was with the design (and performances). The more it went on, the more I felt the constant talking-through of the action fit in t with the traum sa of, or in opposition to, the trau ama of Holly’s past, which through the play repeats itself, resurfacing and elaborating, which she eventually comes to terms with.
[and despite still feeling the production (and script) went a little over-literal at times/ maybe that was the point/ or can be the point/ stating the obvious/ dealing with trauma/ therapeutic thought/ can so often feel like stating the obvious/ but the power, obviously, isn’t in the truth, it’s in the stating]
so ultimately my impression is that this narration (often of very
csmall o actions ‘I shut the door’, ‘I ran upst rairs’, etc.) mostly worked. Something rose out of this over-litaara over-literalness that mightn’t have been there otherwise. The narrative, delivered but Holly, poring over so many inconsequential actions, felt like a very deliber tate sort of lici living/reliving, as if the narrative was in the vein of some elaborate talking-cure, for holly’s benefit.
‘the well, stable and strong you, writes a letter to the more vulnerable you’
This effect waned occa
isionally. I’ve be already mentioned the production was a little too literal m for my liking at times – some visual aspects were a bit too illustrated, though the production felt was still very minimalist. On balance, I think it walked a fine line quite well, wasn’t too sparse and only o vccasionally felt too demonstartive.
iften often an overcrowdedness, in the description, action, prop, and performance, with a lot going on at once to take in. Sometimes this did feel like too much. Others it gave this great impression of the play inhabiting in some way to the conscious, pre sconscious and subconscious of Holly’s mind simult eaneously.
[this was the insular/ and the play balanced this insular with connections/ families/ not ‘family’ but families/ a plurality of social interactions/ some sort of extended sporadic group therapy in human interaction/ each interaction questioning the false persona of ‘Solace’ and requiring more of Holly to save herself/ by the end all this false solace is revealed/ i think im needing to read into it a bit to pull that out but its a satisfying and well meaning narrative arc]
And the communication element came through in the end. And Hollygets stability. And we get a satisfying happy conclusion.
Some mixed feelings about this play.
But A few issues with the script, maybe, and I’ll accede that the produc ition held water. The bad was far outweighed by the good, however. A solid production I enjoyed.
‘when writing, secretly plan to throw away your writing when you are finished’
‘whether you keep it or save it is really up to you’
After the performance and curtain call, a member of the cast brought the audience’s attention the the Plus One scheme. I’m bringing your attention to it too, because it’s important.