London Tales by Utopia Theatre - review
Lost Theatre

Published: Friday, January 16, 2015 9:01 PM | Review by: Mike Scott-Harding | Afridiziak Star Rating:
London Tales © Oda Egjar Starheim London Tales © Oda Egjar Starheim

Moji Kareem’s direction is clear and illustrative, while Chris Yarnell’s movement direction ties the sections together with skill, humour, and grace.


Utopia Theatre’s ‘London Tales’ is an ambitious piece; it uses movement, spoken-word, mime, sound-effects, and a multi-national / lingual cast to share (and make sense of) the experience of living in London; yet one gets the sense that the sum of the parts don’t quite add up the to the whole.


It starts - and ends - with the 12-strong cast standing together on one side of the stage; in-between, they attempt to invoke the spirit of this most cosmopolitan of cities - with mixed results.


We get a strong (and presumably self-penned) spoken-word piece by Gabriel Akamo (“I’m as English as…”) to start; thereafter, we are (re)introduced to familiar travelling commuter skits and well-worn mobile-phone observations.


There is an inventive umbrella-dance between four commuters, a poignant reference to public acts of terrorism, and a humorous nod to the absurdity of that very English cornerstone: the word 'sorry'.


Other scenes - such as a couple’s flirtation, a traveller’s suicide, and the pathological need for train-loads of commuters to hide their ‘nakedness’ behind a “Free Standard” feel rushed and emotionally unsatisfying.


London Tales © Oda Egjar Starheim London Tales © Oda Egjar Starheim

Special mention must go to Gabriel Akamo, Anita-Joy Uwajeh, and to Vaiva Vazgilaviciute for their strong work and charismatic performances


For those who have lived in London for any length of time, it’s very much a case of... 'tell us something we don’t already know'.


The piece becomes more emotionally connecting - ironically enough - when several cast members are tasked, either with speaking in their native tongues - sometimes within the same conversation - or when comparing ’London life’ to their existences ‘back home’ / elsewhere.


Indeed, when one young lady compares living in this city with her experiences in New York and Paris, we get a unique viewpoint that only a true ‘out-of-towner’ can bring.


At this point, we are reminded of the culture clashes, misunderstandings, and frustrations that are exacerbated and / or diluted by London’s imposed cultural ’language’. More of this would have been great.


Although the cast is uniformly good, special mention must go to Gabriel Akamo, Anita-Joy Uwajeh, and to Vaiva Vazgilaviciute for their strong work and charismatic performances.


London Tales © Oda Egjar Starheim London Tales © Oda Egjar Starheim

Moji Kareem’s direction is clear and illustrative, while Chris Yarnell’s movement direction ties the sections together with skill, humour, and grace. The set, costumes, and sound-scapes all work well, but I can’t help feeling there has been a missed opportunity here.


This piece alludes to the wide range of human beings who live in modern London. Although it’s gratifying to experience a more diverse ‘who’ (to go with the ’where’),what’s missing - what would make this a more complete travel-guide - is a more precise set of emotional connections.


If this is the ‘A-Z’... the ‘whY’ seems to be missing.


Info: London Tales is at the Lost Theatre until January 17, 2015 | Book tickets | London Tales will be at Rich Mix on February 14, 2015 | Book tickets | Watch trailer | More




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