The first thing that strikes you upon entering the boxed theatre space is the stark neutrality. From the uniformed barefooted actors, who are already seated talking quietly amongst themselves, to the design of the set – everything is merged into a unified simplicity which is very quickly explained as the actors are randomly cast by the unsuspecting audience handing out 5 unopened envelopes.
Lights lower, cast take their places and what comes next is seventy minutes of art in its truest form as we are taken on a journey of real stories told with transparency and truth.
The constant movement of light and sound as the cast weave their tales is perfectly executed and the whole piece is set at a pace that allows the audience to receive, digest and reflect upon what is being shared. Undoubtedly, with such an intense subject matter of meetings between villain and victim, of hate and love, and the final battle for forgiveness (for both self and others), we were exposed to the rawest of human emotions, but as the piece is delivered using the words of the storytellers verbatim there was a certain simplicity to the language that made it engaging, totally palatable and, at moments, even quite hilarious. And just to give us those extra moments of stillness and reflection, the stories are further brought to life in symbolic art form on the walls surrounding the space.
Applause to both playwright, Harriet Madeley and Director, Max Barton, for this successfully daring collaboration. The Listening Room is experimental theatre that has got it right. It may not be your immediate choice for a ‘first date’, but The Listening Room offers a powerful, evocative evening of entertainment that is captivating, compelling and raw.
Five Stars for The Listening Room - Art in its truest form.
By Jacqueline Malcolm
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