It makes a pleasant change to spend a lunch break doing something cultured and amusing, instead of procrastinating on Facebook, for instance. The two short plays presented by Lunchbox Theatre (in association with Lightbox Theatre) in their show Everyday People were unknown to me, two little gems that, despite their short duration, spoke volumes about the human condition. Tennessee Williams’ Every Twenty Minutes, performed by Rebecca Pownall and Liam Smith, presents us with a warring couple that is minute by minute, subtly self-destructing as a result of their own inadequacies and disappointments. It is by turns amusing and harrowing, and the coldness between this rather glamorous long-married couple is both palpable and saddening.
Perhaps the same could be said for Seagulls by Caryl Churchill, where we meet Valery (Carol Starks) who has an amazing (and very lucrative) gift – a British, fully grown Matilda if you will, who can move things with her eyes. Valery’s supernatural powers, however, are threatening to tear apart her family, her own yearning for domesticity, and most importantly perhaps, her health. Her manager Di (Rebecca Pownall) and an adoring fan Cliff (Liam Smith) are by turns supportive and incredulous by Valery’s fragile nature and questions surrounding her longevity as a performing monkey. There is also the constant threat of a more sinister end for Valery, should she acquiesce to the demands of Harvard University to undergo testing in their laboratory.
Both Churchill and Williams question what it means to be human, and ultimately, examine our deepest longings and desires. The writing is of course sublime. The acting is also terrific, especially from the women, who present strongly drawn characters able to both prompt a laugh and be hugely moving – no small feat in such a small amount of time. The space is simple, with minimal set, which only serves to highlight the writing of the pieces. Sensitively directed by Emma Faulkner, Everyday People is a wonderful antidote to the drudging minutiae of working life, and absolutely worth a pop in if you’re in the area.
Review by Amy Stow
Directed by Emma Faulkner and Liam Smith
Presented by Light Box Theatre
From couples and colleagues to friends and foes, EVERYDAY PEOPLE casts a spotlight on ordinary folk whose handle on situations isn’t what it seems, and is a unique chance to see the following overlooked plays:
EVERY TWENTY MINUTES by Tennessee Williams
SEAGULLS by Caryl Churchill