Dragging the very willing Becky as my Plus One, we were experiencing the delightful -and very delayed- train journey towards the suited and booted City Thameslink. I will not discuss my dear friend’s personal life for the sake of my blog, but we did talk about the soul’s past life. Keeping Mystic Meg at bay, I haven’t really considered exploring “past life” or “reincarnation”, but I sometimes feel like I’m an older woman trapped within a young person’s body…or that’s maturity/morals/big up to my mother! Anyway…Théâtre Voliére’s Consolation spooked us.
Not knowing Théâtre Voliére or Bridewell Theatre productions, I love to experience a fresh dose of theatre goodness. Sitting within a small theatre which once was a derelict Victorian swimming pool, I was already excited (doesn’t take much, does it?) Reading our programmes, we gulped at the sight of French, but was intrigued by Albert Giraud’s poem (translated by Mick Wood for the likes of me). With the lack of show information, a small cast list and 2 hour 15 minute duration, we were on high attention span alerts for Consolation.
A tragicomedy set in modern day Southern France, Consolation is about the relationship between a young Frenchman, who plays a Cathar knight at the local Visitor’s Centre, and a middle-aged Englishwoman who believes she has experiences a past life as a Cathar heretic in thirteenth century Languedoc. The play is about lost worlds, pseudo-history, and the search for belonging, with a very modern twist in its tale…
Jolly Good Show
Examining the title, Consolation means comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment. Expecting to roll the eyes at the woman playing victim, I applaud both characters having to console each other. Their personal narratives had such heavy substance and dramatic awe – they argued, flirted, spied, toyed, kissed and comforted – it was great to watch their relationship grow and characters change shape. Raymond’s lively, arrogant yet comical jibes were toned down and Carol’s depressive, violent and emotional flusters finally found peace.
Holly Joyce embodied Carol’s emotionally wrecked mind with physical aggression, childlike vulnerability and maternal love. Personally, it was very rare to witness an “older” (be careful here, Emma) woman battling with depression, but Joyce’s frustrated monologue rang like poetry to my ears. Her major meltdown kicking those annoying wooden blocks in her wake was madly magnificent. Desperately trying to appear “normal”, her typical motherly clucking towards her son was an accurate comical sketch of a mother trying to use Skype (Boy I have been there and it’s not pleasant). Her Skype introduction to her son’s new girlfriend trod on very hysterical yet awkward grounds too.
Danny Solomon bought a mixed palette of light and shade towards his Raymond character. As an enthusiastic Frenchman, he whips out his…notebook…to capture snippets of Carol’s English and provides perfect comedy relief throughout the performance. He too displays a sense of vulnerability, believing London will achieve his dream to become an actor. Sadly, it’s Carol who crushes his positivity with reality of our universities’ International Student scams. At times, the language barrier shunned me out of Raymond’s life and singled me out from the audience. I desperately wanted to know what was troubling young Raymond as he spoke with rapid speed on his mobile. I had no visual clues so I would suggest subtitles, but I guess it serves me right for not learning a second language. Blame my French teacher! However, I did notice Théâtre Voliére wish to place “emphasis on exploring the historical tensions and moderns challenges raised by European project”. True point!
A big thumbs to the set design – a whooping great projector screen and wooden stage boxes. Simples! I also loved the voice of God or annoying counsellor moments as Carol is forced to share her line of thinking with the audience. It was like I was in the mind of a theatre genius!
Consolation is my theatre gem. The cast and crew deserve all the recognition and success as they provide a mound of gripping and inspirational drama. You can tell the production has been carefully crafted as the script satisfies the curious spirit. There are many West End shows which provide you with a McDonald’s Happy Meal, but Consolation provides you with an exclusive banquet.
Consolation ends 4th September. More information on the show here.
Big thanks to Jemma Last