Actor and writer Alistair Hall in 'Declan' (c) Jamie Luke Scoular, 2019.

Declan – The Actors Centre’s new online play – Review

Actor and writer Alistair Hall in 'Declan' (c) Jamie Luke Scoular, 2019.
Actor and writer Alistair Hall in ‘Declan’ (c) Jamie Luke Scoular, 2019.

Billed as “A contemporary ghost story”, Declan tells the story of Jimbo a strange and disturbed young man living in a Wiltshire suburb.

Directed by Alexis Gregory this short (just twenty-five minutes) monologue, written and performed by Alistair Hall tells Jimbo’s story in flashbacks as he obsesses mainly about his missing friend Declan, as well as a flesh-eating, blood-sucking vampire-like monster and the ghost of King Edward II. Performed in a black box space with a single camera using various props such as a microwave oven, a boombox that plays silently, a pair of trainers and a Barbie doll which Jimbo finds in a black rubbish bag, Declan is an on-line piece of theatre for these turbulent times.

Jimbo is totally obsessed by Declan who may be real or imagined and Jimbo is lost without his friend who was there one moment and gone the next. His other obsession is Edward II who appears in Jimbo’s imagination from time to time. Jimbo seems deranged and wildly obsessive about them and it’s obvious that he’s very disturbed by what he’s seeing in his head and the story he’s telling.

Declan is a play about isolation and what it can do to the mind. Like a lot of creative work at the moment, there are parallels with the isolation a lot of people are suffering due to the lock-down although Declan was written before the world changed so couldn’t be timelier.

Hall has written an interesting piece of theatre and performs his own work with great intensity and manic energy. However, at times the writing seems a bit blurred and meandering and it could do with a bit more focus on Declan rather than throwing in the monster and Edward II and other assorted characters which are often confusing to the viewer.

At times Declan is a tense and disturbing piece of theatre that makes us look at our own isolation be it real or in our imagination. With a little more focus, Declan could have been the stuff nightmares are made of.

3 stars

Review by Alan Fitter

Declan, written and performed by Alistair Hall and directed by Alexis Gregory (of Riot Act, Arcola, West End, UK tours, and Sex/Crime, Soho Theatre), is launching online to raise critical funds during The Actors Centre’s period of closure.

Set in a Wiltshire suburb, Declan is a contemporary ghost story, exploring isolation, fear of the outside world and the distance between two friends. As Jimbo recalls the disappearance of his best friend Declan, he is plagued by ghosts of the past, present and future, and the boundaries between the real and imagined, the dead and the living, become blurred. With the scent of Declan thick in the air, this is a story of total obsession.

https://www.actorscentre.co.uk/theatre/declan